The Haven Lady Wildcats are heading to the championship game of the Wildcat Classic girls basketball tournament after defeating Nickerson 50-41 on Friday night in the semifinals.
The championship game happens to fall just six days before the one-year anniversary of their former assistant coach David Chamberlain’s passing.
“I thought more than once here lately about that date coming up; it’s going to be emotional again,” Haven coach Dwight Roper said. “I know he’s happy with where we’re at and what we’re doing.”
Every game, Roper wears a bracelet in memory of Chamberlain. The bracelet serves as a daily reminder of Chamberlain’s contributions to the team.
“He’s with us,” Roper said. “For every game, he’s right there with us.”
In addition to his leadership abilities, Chamberlain’s passion for not only coaching, but for the entire Haven school district, left a lasting impression on the basketball program and the school.
“I think about him every day,” Roper said. “He was such a great role model for these girls and our program. He was die-hard Haven. That guy bled black and gold.”
Chamberlain made such an impact on the team that his legacy lives on in each game that the team plays.
Senior Arie Roper grew up having Chamberlain in the gym with her. She said that after his passing, she and her teammates had a hard time continuing the rest of the season.
But the players channeled their grief into their games, dedicating their efforts to him, even to this day.
“We pulled together as a team, and we said we were going to push through and do what he wants us to do,” Arie said. “I play every minute of every game for him.”
Winning against Nickerson meant so much more to the Lady Wildcats than just a spot in the championship game.
The day after Chamberlain’s death last year, the Lady Wildcats had to play their homecoming game. This season’s homecoming game is against Nickerson, so Haven already had their sights set on them.
“That homecoming game last year was so tough on us,” said Haven’s Faith Paramore. “Playing them again on homecoming will be big, but I know (Chamberlain) will be there with us.”
Haven will face Cheney in the championship game Saturday at 3:30 p.m. Just as has been the case with all their other games, the Lady Wildcats will dedicate it to Chamberlain.
“We’ll never forget him,” Paramore said. “He’s the reason we are where we are. We dedicate everything we do for him.”