by Greg Starks
In anticipation of Springside Chestnut Hill’s upcoming basketball season, the school hosted its first “Kountdown to Kraziness” event to build up excitement for the teams.
Fans gathered in the school gym on Friday, Nov. 22, eagerly awaiting the night’s upcoming events. There was a DJ playing music while the players were being introduced and throughout the whole event. Both the girls’ and boys’ varsity and JV teams played scrimmages against each other. There was a fan skill challenge, a managers vs. parents shootout and the most anticipated event – the slam dunk contest.
An avid sports fan, SCH Head of School Stephan Druggan was in attendance, as he enjoys going to sporting events at SCH. He always strives to make the school the closest community that it can be and believes that events like this highlight that.
“This brings people together,” Druggan said. “They get to have some laughs and see the future talent of their winter program.”
Even though you are supposed to be in high school to play on the teams, eighth-grader Ronald DiPietro was good enough to be called up to play on the varsity team this year. This was DiPietro’s first time getting actual in-game experience at the varsity level.
“It was amazing,” DiPietro said. “Just giving the ball to my teammates and figuring out a way to win at this fun event is amazing! I’m glad to be on the high school journey this year.”
From someone who just made his varsity debut to a player who is a seasoned veteran, senior David Robinson Jr. has been at SCH for two years and has been elevated to team captain status for this year. Robinson helped lead his team to a close victory during the scrimmage. Even though his team won, he focused on the bigger picture of what the event was all about.
“I got to bond with my teammates and just have fun,” Robinson said. “Sometimes you forget how to have fun when you’re playing a game, but tonight just reminded me to have fun and just play like it’s my last game.”
Coach Julian McFadden is in his fourth year as the head coach of SCH’s boys’ basketball team. He is the one who came up with the idea of “Kountdown to Kraziness” and knows just how important this event was to building team chemistry.
“It was something we’ve never done on the high school level,” McFadden said. “I’ve never seen it done on the high school level. If anything, it gives them [the players] time to first be teenagers and be able to cheer each other on, and be able to have that camaraderie that they probably wouldn’t get until they got to college. I think it’s really good for them to see each other in a different light.”
The final but most anticipated event of the night was the dunk contest. The two competitors were seniors Robinson and Scott Bandura. Robinson struggled to find his rhythm early, but Bandura came out swinging. He came out and did a couple of steady but flashy dunks, while the crowd stood in anticipation waiting to see what he was going to do next. Robinson finally found his rhythm as he showcased some monstrous slams, but his early-round struggles cost him the competition. Bandura’s best dunk was a self alley-oop off the wall. After that, the competition was basically over and he walked away as the dunk contest champion.
“It feels great,” Bandura said. “It’s the first one I’ve ever been in, so it just feels good.”
Even though Robinson lost in the dunk contest, he still had nothing but praise for his teammate.
“I’m glad Scott won,” Robinson said. “He deserved it, and after that second one off the wall, I just couldn’t compete with that.”
Once the night’s festivities came to an end, it would be back to business for the SCH basketball teams. McFadden believes that a winning culture has been brought back to the basketball program. With each year, he believes that the “Kountdown to Kraziness” events will just get bigger.
“Now that it’s a thing that’s happened, I’m just hoping people will go home and say they had a good time,” he said. “It’s something that other students, parents and families will want to see and just be a part of.”