NEW WINDSOR — Brian Chesley required the attention of all 10 of his Springdale Preparatory School girls basketball players in the early moments of Wednesday night’s practice.
The Lions were a few days removed from winning their first tournament in their inaugural season at Springdale Prep, a third-year private school located in the former New Windsor Middle School building. Chesley, Springdale’s coach, wanted to make sure the girls didn’t lose sight of his objectives.
“I was getting on them, because I’m a no-nonsense kind of guy,” Chesley said. “At the end of the day, I’m not here for you to like me. I’m here for you to get to the next level.”
It’s why the Lions come from all over, from Maryland and Pennsylvania to the Virgin Islands. It’s why one of Carroll County’s rising varsity players from last season decided to switch schools in hopes of gaining better basketball exposure.
It’s why Chesley ran the Lions through plenty of paces, made sure no basketballs were bouncing while he spoke, and ordered push-ups for those who didn’t stick to the code.
“That’s what this is all about,” the coach said. “I want to build a program out here where we’re on the level of McDonogh, your St. Franceses, your Roland Parks. ... I just basically want to make this school the Duke of high schools. I want to put something in Carroll County where we have a school ... that [is] competing on a national level.”
Chesley’s plan will likely take some time, but Springdale’s first team doesn’t seem to be complacent with its rookie status. The Lions traveled last weekend to Pottstown, Pennsylvania, for The Hill School’s annual tournament. They opened their season with a prior loss to McDonogh, but earned wins over Oldfields (57-40) and the hosts (63-26) to take the title.
Tamyra Timmons, a junior who came to Springdale from Winters Mill, earned tournament Most Valuable Player honors. Timmons is third on the Lions in scoring through three games at 8.7 points per game. Sophomore Libby Kiley leads Springdale at 11 points per game, and former Francis Scott Key all-county guard Savannah Brooks, another sophomore, is next at 10.3.
Timmons said being at the school all day helps her focus on staying sharp, particularly when practices begin. Chesley’s work ethic is intense, but the former assistant at Manchester Valley and Gerstell Academy doesn’t come across as anything other than demanding.
“We don’t joke around in here,” Timmons said during a quick water break. “If we joke around, we’re running. We’ve got to be disciplined.”
Brooks earned first-team all-county honors last winter in helping FSK win its first county title since 1987. The talented guard averaged 10.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists as a freshman, and said leaving Key was a tough decision following her first varsity year.
“It was back and forth,” Brooks said. “Ultimately it came down to what’s better for me in the long run.”
Added Timmons: “It was something to think about. You’ve got to bring it down to, where do you want to be in the future?”
Brooks and Timmons were already familiar with each other from their time spent as AAU teammates with Westminster-based Mid-Atlantic Legacy. Chesley is one of the founders of Legacy and serves as its director of basketball operations; Springdale assistant Tim Whitehead is a Legacy coach, like Chesley, and also the vice president of the club.
Timmons said winning the Hill School tourney was satisfying because of Springdale’s “underdog” mentality. The Lions likely will be competing as an unknown in many cases this winter, and Brooks said that could be a positive for such a young bunch.
Springdale hits the road next weekend for another tournament, the She Got Game Classic in Springfield, Virginia. The Lions and Gerstell are two of 35 Maryland teams listed on the event’s website as participants. Last year’s She Got Game Classic saw featured more than 100 college coaches in attendance, according to the site.
Springdale had three home games on its schedule when the season started, but Chesley said the Lions are down to two now. No matter, the coach said. The Lions’ “Road Warriors” mindset will suffice.