By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
Antonie Chaney knows all about the highs of winning and the lows that come with losing.
He was a standout on Corsicana’s last boys basketball playoff team in 2008-09, and a senior on a Tigers squad that went 0-27 in 2009-10.
Chaney is again enjoying winning time as a junior reserve at Mary Hardin-Baylor, where the Crusaders are a win away from making it to the Final Four in the NCAA Division III National Championships. Mary-Hardin Baylor, making its first appearance in sectionals, plays St. Mary’s College of Maryland in the Sectional Finals at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Salem, Va.
The Crusaders are 25-5 and have revived that winning feeling for Chaney, who spent two seasons at Temple College in between Corsicana and Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Chaney, who was on a bus for the airport Tuesday, said he still reflects back on his senior season for the Tigers and admits it taught him a lot about basketball and himself.
“That season taught me a lot about myself as far as being able to control myself and keeping my composure,” Chaney said. “It helped me out in the long run.”
Chaney has made an adjustment this season coming off the bench, where he is averaging 6.9 points per game. His playing time has fluctuated — he averages around 15 minutes per game.
Chaney led the Crusaders in scoring when he had 17 points in a 74-54 victory over Texas Lutheran on Feb. 9. He is Mary Hardin-Baylor’s leader in 3-point shooting, making 37.9 percent of his shots from behind the arc. He also leads the Crusaders with an 84.3 free-throw percentage.
Chaney is averaging six points per game in two NCAA tournament games, averaging 11.5 minutes.
He admits it’s been an adjustment coming off the bench, one he’s grown to appreciate.
“It’s been a hard experience, but it’s been a good one,” Chaney said. “Coming off the bench, the good thing is I’ve able to see what Coach (Ken) DeWeese sees, his view from the sideline. I can see what he means. I can see how he wants things done.”
The Crusaders obviously rely on Chaney’s instant offense off the bench. But he said Tuesday that while he understands that’s an important part of his role, as a point guard, he has to manage the game too.
“When I come in, I look for my shot,” Chaney said. “But more so I look to control the tempo of the game that is already going. I have to control the tempo more than in high school or junior college.”
The unranked Crusaders have a difficult task ahead with No. 11 St. Mary’s, which has won three tournament games. The winner of Friday’s game will advance to the semifinals to face either St. Thomas, Minn. or Williams College at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Chaney has traveled to Spokane, Wash. and Salem now during the NCAA Tournament, the first plane flights of his life.
He is away from his older brother, Emmanuel, who also played on that Tiger playoff basketball team coached by Andy Dotson in 2009. Antonie and Emmanuel talk almost every day, and big brother, who goes to school at Texas State in San Marcos, serves as a good sounding board.
“He’s helped me a lot when I’ve been frustrated about basketball,” Antonie said. “He’s always helped me keep a level head. He always says something that keeps me in tune.
“One time I was very frustrated, and I almost threw in the towel, and he told me to keep working hard and if I ever wonder if anyone sees me working hard, he said God is whispering in my ear, ‘I see you.’”
Between Emmanuel and mother Angela Davis, Chaney has the perfect support group.
“I know she still supports me and loves me,” Chaney said.
Win or lose.
Antonie Chaney in Elite 8
What: Corsicana’s Antonie Chaney and Mary Hardin-Baylor will play St. Mary’s of Maryland in a NCAA Division III Tournament Championship Sectional Final game.
When: 1:30 p.m. Friday in Salem, Va.
How you can watch?: All of the Sectional Final and semifinal games will be video streamed by Turner Sports at www.ncaa.com.