WYE MILLS - Andrew Sachs needed time. Not much time, mind you.
Just one year. In a remarkable turnaround, Sachs took the Chesapeake College men’s basketball team from an 8-16 record to an 18-9 mark.
This season, things got even better in his second year on the job. The Skipjacks finished a sterling 23-3, including a school-record 17-game winning streak.
Twenty-three was the second-most victories in school history.
Sachs was often brimming with pride when the National Junior College Athletic Association Division II men’s basketball poll came out.
Chesapeake first appeared in the poll in early December with a No. 16 ranking, and the Skipjacks climbed as high as No. 4 in mid-February.
“We had a really good year,” Sachs explained. “It’s really something to build on.
“We had a short lineup this year,” he added.
Indeed. Chesapeake played about half the season with eight players. The Skipjacks traveled to Western Maryland with seven players to face Allegany College and they came away with a 33-point victory in mid-January.
“It’s hard to practice and compete with seven guys,” Chesapeake sophomore point guard Mahzi Thames said. “We tried to prepare as well as we could in practice and translate it to the game. We had great guard play this year. We had multiple guys that could score. If someone got tired, another guy would score.”
Chesapeake again had seven players when the team clashed with Pennsylvania’s Community College of Beaver County in a Region XX first-round game on March 1 in Wye Mills.
Unfortunately, Beaver County ended Chesapeake’s season with a 75-66 victory.
Chesapeake trailed by 11 points early in the second half, but the Skipjacks managed to tie it at 63 on freshman guard JayShaun Freeman’s basket before the visitors pulled away.
The matchup earlier in the season was a different story.
The Skipjacks had thumped Beaver County, 77-56, in late January at home.
“We didn’t play real well offensively,” Sachs said. “We didn’t share the ball as well as we did in the past. When we get down, guys try to do things by themselves. And I think our depth was worn down.”
Beaver County’s James Ellis, a 6-foot-11, 225-pound center/forward didn’t play in the first match-up.
Ellis, however, made his presence felt in the rematch by scoring a game-high 25 points. He had three dunks and also scored on alley-oop.
“We have struggled with size all year,” Sachs said.
Thames led Chesapeake with 20 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. Sophomore shooting guard Craig Turner finished with 16 points, three assists, two assists and two steals for the Skipjacks while Jabraun Shingler totaled nine points and 11 rebounds.
DJ Earl (8 points), Freeman (6), Jalen Freeman (4), and Matty Ryan (2) accounted for the rest of Chesapeake’s scoring.
The Skipjacks led 15-11 with 10:42 left in the first half and again by four points about four minutes later.
Beaver County led 33-28 at halftime. The margin increased to 11 points less than two minutes into the second quarter.
Chesapeake tied it with 3:40 to go, but the Titans ended on a 12-3 run.
“We had a game plan and we executed about as well as we could have,” Titans’ coach Tyler Care said. “We played better than we had for most of the season.”