The Chesapeake College men’s basketball team announced itself to the junior college basketball world last year with a national ranking, a 17-game winning streak and posting the second-most wins in school history with 23.
But Chesapeake head coach Andrew Sachs hoped to maintain a national presence, and the Skipjacks are doing it.
This season, the National Junior College Athletic Association ranks the Skipjacks No. 13 in the Division II poll with a 25-4 record. They have won 20 out of their last 21 games.
It’s hard to say this year’s team is better than the 2022 Skipjacks, but that could end up being the case if they win some games in the Region XX Tournament that starts March 7.
How good has Chesapeake been? The Skipjacks are rebounding, shooting and playing better defense than a year ago. On top of that, they even have a deeper bench.
“We are getting it done,” said Sachs, a third-year coach. “Our three-point field goal percentage defense is one of the best in the country. We are shooting the ball well and have a pretty good assist-to-turnover ratio. All those things help contribute to winning basketball games.”
Sachs loves the talent on his roster. He says all of the team’s sophomores (6) are legitimate four-year college basketball prospects. Sachs sent three players from last year’s team on to play at a four-year school and one the previous season.
This year’s standouts include guards Lamont Powell, Izaiah Credle, DJ Earl, JayShaun Freeman and Justin DeMaria and forward Ezekiel Edwards.
Powell (Easton High graduate) and Freeman (Kent County High) are local products.
“I think all six sophomores could play at the next level,” Sachs said, “I think we didn’t play more than six guys last year. I think coming from a winning program at least when I recruited at a four-year school, I wanted guys that were used to winning and are good players. We have a lot of guys like that.”
Good luck to opponents slowing down Chesapeake’s offense. There’s no doubt Sachs favors an up-tempo game. The Skipjacks are averaging 87 points a game and seven times, they have surpassed 100 points.
Earl spearheads the offense, averaging a team-high 16.2 points. He had some memorable games. Early scored a season-high 32 points in a 109-67 rout over Delaware Tech in mid-December and also finished with 26 points in triumphs over both Garrett College and Virginia Peninsula Community College.
“DJ shoots the ball really well, is a strong driver to the basket and he is our best defender,” Chesapeake assistant coach Delonte Joyce said. “He gets a lot of his points off steals as well.”
Freeman (14.3), Credle (12.0), DeMaria (10.9) and the point guard Powell (10.5 points, 4.1 assists) are also offensive contributors.
“It can be a different guy every game,” Joyce said of a player who will lead the team in scoring.
DeMaria and freshman forwards Elisha Gregory and TaQuan Courtney, a Kent Island graduate, support the starters by coming off the bench.
Sachs probably wasn’t thinking about national rankings and winning streaks back in mid-December when Chesapeake lost back-to-back games to College of Southern Maryland and Howard Community College to drop to 5-3.
“I think there maybe were some skeptics when we started 5-3,” the coach said. “But I always thought we would be pretty good.