Led by 3 returning starters, Cheswick Christian has conference title aspirations
The Cheswick Christian Academy boys basketball team suffered a disappointing loss to Harvest Baptist in last year's Southwest Christian Athletic Conference championship game.
This year, Cheswick Christian could be the team dealing out the defeats.
The Chargers appear to have what it takes for another playoff run.
They return three starters, including last year's East Division Most Valuable Player and leading scorer Antoine Malloy, a junior point guard. Malloy averaged 12 points and 3.8 steals per game last season.
Joining Malloy in the starting five will be his brother, senior forward JaJuan Malloy, as well as senior forward Ian Swartz and sophomore forward Andy Skledar.
The versatile Swartz has the ability to score from inside or out.
“He is bigger, stronger and faster than last year,” Cheswick coach Todd Rosio said. “He's improved noticeably. He will be a very good player in our league. He's primed to go out with a bang.”
The fifth starting position is up for grabs but the void could be filled by an eighth-grader. SWCAC rules differ from those of the PIAA.
Isaiah Malloy, the brother of Antoine and JaJuan, could join his siblings in the starting rotation.
“That should make it a bit easier with teamwork,” Rosio said of the Malloys playing together. “They will have better chemistry then a mix of five kids. Anytime you see brothers do something together it's nice. They will get to do this and look back on it. The youngest one, this is sort of his emergence on the scene this year, and whether he ends up being the starter all the time I think it will be interesting for the older brothers to watch him emerge.”
When Cheswick Christian plays a PIAA school, Isaiah won't be able to play.
Joining Isaiah in the competition for the fifth spot will be senior Will Kallquist and sophomore Dom Merola.
Despite the loss of five players to graduation, Rosio thinks his team will remain strong. But the Chargers won't get a rematch with Harvest Baptist, because that team left the SWCAC.
“I think they want to win (the championship),” Rosio said of his team. “I don't know if you want to call that a redemption story or what, but they want to grab first place. They had a nice piece of success last year. I think they would like to complete the task that we almost completed last year.”
D.J. Vasil is a freelance writer.