Brett Campbell was banking on the communal power of grilled meat.
In his new job as boys’ basketball coach at St. Charles, which opened in Charles County in 2014, Campbell wanted to give his players a head start developing chemistry. So he invited every member of the school’s inaugural basketball program to a preseason barbecue at his house.
His varsity squad would be composed of players from eight schools including various eighth-grade graduates and boys rezoned from McDonough, Thomas Stone and North Point.
“We get them spending as much time together as possible,” Campbell said. “The kids have done a good job getting to know each other.”
It took 12 games, but the Spartans’ chemistry came through last Friday, when St. Charles (1-11) registered its first win in program history with a 66-58 victory over Great Mills. Junior James Selby led St. Charles with 21 points, and Sean Scott and Jeff Hughes each pitched in 11.
Before the game, captains Scott and Mehki McCray delivered a strong message.
“We told them, ‘We’re sick of losing. We’re not losing this one. We’re done with losing,’” Scott said.
St. Charles has no 12th-graders, but Campbell said the coaches call Scott their senior because he entered the school with the most experience after playing for McDonough last season. Campbell said Scott has lost weight and gotten more aggressive to lead the team in scoring (13.8 ppg).
Since the first get-together, Campbell has organized study hall for the team during lunch and after school three days a week. The coach had the advantage of knowing many members of the team during his tenure as a social studies teacher at Benjamin Stoddert Middle School.
Campbell said the boys have improved by following Scott’s example and buying into IDU: intensity, discipline and unity. He said learning winning habits in practice has been important, because the Spartans are still learning the significance of playing hard every possession.
The team’s first win brought a smile to Scott’s face, but the junior said he won’t be satisfied finishing the season with just one.
“Nothing’s going to be given to us,” he said. “We have to improve now. We’ve got one, we have to keep fighting to get more and more.”
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