Basketball preview: Chelsea Hornets

Published 5:03 pm Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Matt Marquet is one of three returners for Chelsea in 2015-16 who will be have to contribute heavily. (File)

Matt Marquet is one of three returners for Chelsea in 2015-16 who will be have to contribute heavily. (File)

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

CHELSEA – The 16-16 record from last season’s Chelsea team doesn’t tell the whole story of that season. In Nicholas Baumbaugh’s first year as the head coach of the Hornets, they not only won their area (currently 6A, Area 10) for the first time in 29 years, the Hornets also beat Albertville in the ensuing subregional matchup in an overtime classic to punch their ticket to the 6A Sweet Sixteen.

Now, a year removed from that memorable season, Baumbaugh and the Hornets are faced with some stark realities. Gone are the seven seniors from last year’s squad, and the loss Chelsea will feel the most is the one left by Darrell Foster. Baumbaugh and his staff only have statistics dating back to the 2003-04 season, but from that time Foster is the all-time leading rebounder at Chelsea with 816 and the third all-time leading scorer with 1,072 points. That’s a large amount of production Chelsea now has to replace.

Returning to this year’s team are three starters in Aaron Washington, Joseph Lanzi and Matt Marquet, all three of whom are guards. Lanzi is a pass-first, shifty, deceptive ball handler who will split ball-handling duties with Washington, the purest scorer on the roster. Marquet, the quarterback on the football team, came on in a big way as a sophomore and will now be asked to take the next step from a production standpoint in all facets of the game as a junior.

While those three will be on the floor upwards of 25 minutes a game, the rest of the minutes are up in the air. There is not a great deal of varsity experience on this roster between the 10 seniors and juniors not named Washington, Lanzi or Marquet. While the experience is not there, Baumbaugh is confident the ability is.

“People will key on Aaron and Joe specifically,” Baumbaugh said. “I don’t think you’ll be able to key on our third or fourth player each night. Each one of our guys is capable of having a big night.”

The start of the season may be a bit of a challenge, as eight varsity players are also football guys. If Chelsea makes the playoffs and wins its first playoff game, a distinct possibility with how the Hornets have played this season, Baumbaugh will be without those eight for at least the first two games of the year.

Once the dust settles and the roster is fully intact, this team will operate as close as it can, without Foster, to how last year’s squad operated. This year the offense will be more guard-oriented and focused on attacking and slashing, as there is no real size on this roster. The defense will try and get out and press at every opportunity.

As far as looking at the season as a whole, Baumbaugh thinks history is well within this team’s grasp.

“We’ve never won back-to-back area championships,” Baumbaugh said. “Ever. In 50-60 years, never done it. Our goal is to win the area and see what happens then. I believe we have the talent to win back-to-back area titles.”

Chelsea will start the season on Nov. 12 with a home game against Thompson.