Stevens High senior emerges as a leader

  • Dylan Chambers laughs as he passes the ball to Austin Jones during a boys basketball practice at Stevens High School in Claremont, N.H., on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

  • Dylan Chambers shoots the ball during a boys basketball practice at Stevens High School in Claremont, N.H., on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

  • Head coach Ray Curren walks his team through a play during a boys basketball practice at Stevens High School in Claremont, N.H., on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/29/2021 5:39:46 PM
Modified: 12/29/2021 5:39:18 PM

CLAREMONT — Dylan Chambers’ first basketball game for Stevens High ended with a miracle.

The Cardinals’ junior varsity team was short on numbers going into last season’s game at Hanover. Varsity head coach Ray Curren saw Chambers shooting at a nearby gym close to game day. He asked the then-junior if he’d be willing to lace up and play against Hanover. Chambers obliged.

The game came down to the wire: The Cardinals trailed by two points with five seconds remaining, and Hanover shooting a free throw. Then-sophomore Dominic Puksta grabbed the rebound after the shot missed, and passed to Chambers. Chambers took a dribble and heaved a cross-court pass to then-junior Reeve Wilkinson in front of the Stevens bench. Wilkinson caught it with his back to the basket, jumped and launched a prayer mid-turn.

He swished the shot. The Cardinals won.

“It couldn’t have happened any better,” Chambers said. “I get the outlet pass, find Reeve, and he just does some 360 and throws it in the basket somehow. Miracle shot.”

Chambers was hooked. He played out the final two weeks of the season for the Stevens JV team.

Now, playing on varsity as a senior, he’s an important piece of Curren’s effort to build up Stevens’ boys basketball program.

Curren made him a co-captain this season, along with Wilkinson. It’s a role Chambers knows well: He also captains the soccer and baseball teams.

Curren said that previously, skilled athletes like Chambers weren’t coming out for basketball, which hurt the program both on and off the court. Getting players and leaders like Chambers on the roster will help the program’s culture, which Curren is hoping will lead to on-court improvements as well. The team is off to a solid start there: the Cardinals are 2-1 so far, after going 3-8 last year.

Chambers’ leadership has helped. He leads by example, but isn’t afraid to speak up when necessary.

“It’s more of an action thing. (Teammates) see that he works hard; they see that,” Curren said. “He’s not too hard on them, he’s not just going to get on them for no reason. But he knows when we need it. And they know if he’s mad or upset at something, it’s not something he does all the time. So they know they better shape up.”

Soccer is Chambers’ preferred sport. In November, he committed to play at Keene State next fall. He’s still playing soccer this winter while also on the basketball team.

Even though he’s playing his first year of varsity basketball, Chambers has his teammates’ respect. He’s played other sports with them and sees them around school, so he already had relationships with many of his teammates.

“Dylan’s a great leader,” Wilkinson said. “He’s our starting point guard, so I think he does a lot for us. Besides myself, I would say Dylan is probably the best leader on our team.”

Though he’s a starter, Chambers isn’t a big scorer, and doesn’t fill up the stat sheet night after night.

Curren said Chambers is the type of player who can make a difference without those stats, which is essential to a good team. Chambers takes pride in doing the little things on the court.

“I’ve always been that type of guy,” Chambers said. “A lot of coaches say, ‘The hustle stats don’t show,’ and I love being the guy that gets those hustle stats. Dive on the floor when the ball is loose, go win that 50/50 ball, get up and get the rebounds. Some people notice those things, some people don’t. (But) it’s huge.”

Chambers’ impact on Stevens athletics isn’t limited to the three teams he plays for. He also helps out the Cardinals’ unified basketball team. His sister, Michelle, plays for the team. He goes to practices and assists when he’s available, and if time permits, he tries to help them in the classroom.

“I love getting involved with those kids,” Chambers said. “I grew up beside some of these kids that play on the team. I know some of them. Every time they see me, their eyes light up. It’s awesome. It’s a great experience. It makes me so happy just to see them happy and feel included.”

Whether it’s calling out a teammate slacking off during practice, or making unified basketball kids smile, Chambers doesn’t take his leadership roles lightly.

“When it comes to being a leader, you don’t have to be the best player on the floor. You don’t have to be the No. 1 guy. It’s all about leading your team to victory,” Chambers said. “Just being a leader in itself is a big enough honor. Your coaches trust you to lead the team to victory. It just means a ton to me.”

Seth Tow can be reached at stow@vnews.com.




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