Whitchester senior Zach Rhoades encounters a smothering defensive play from Chelsea’s Shawn King and Cole Banks in Thursday night’s nail-biter that resulted in a 51-46 victory for the Red Devils in their school’s final home game. (Herald / Dylan Kelley)

Chelsea Basketball Bids Farewell

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Generations of men and women who once donned the familiar red and white jerseys of Chelsea High School basketball filled that school’s gymnasium for one last time last Thursday evening as their beloved Red Devils suited up against the Whitchester Mountaineers for their regular-season swan song.

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A sea of red-shirted fans packed the bleachers and spilled out along the baseline to show their support for a contest between two hard-court teams that will cease to exist in the coming year due to Act 46, the state’s school district consolidation law that has since prompted the decision to close Chelsea High School.

Chelsea junior Kiana Johnson puts up a shot over the Whitchester defense during the Red Devils’ final home game on Thursday evening, a battle that wound up with a 35-27 victory over the Mountaineers. (Herald / Dylan Kelley)

Feeding off the near-deafening cheers of hundreds of community members, the games took on the frenetic energy of a playoff matchup. Each basket pierced like a dagger or soared like an answered prayer as the Chelsea girls’ and boys’ teams authored the final stanzas of their school’s basketball history.

By night’s end, the girls had claimed a 35-27 victory game over the Mountaineers and the boys, in never-say-die fashion, had come from behind to seal a dramatic 51- 46 victory.

“I’ve played on this court since second or third grade,” said Chelsea forward Ronald Johnson, a junior who had hoped to graduate from CHS next year. “I’ve let out my blood, sweat, and tears on this court, literally,” said Johnson after kneeling down to kiss the school’s iconic red devil mascot painted at center court.

“I am absolutely honored to play on this team,” said Kiana Johnson, another junior, who thanked her coach and teammates after scoring 15 points earlier in the evening. “Everybody—,” she gasped. “We work together—we’re like a big family here in Chelsea.”

It was a feeling echoed by boys’ head coach Seldon Levasseur, who grew emotional when describing his players.

“I think that they played their hearts out for everybody in the stands and they played their hearts out for the moment,” he said. “When they play together I think they can overcome just about everything.”

Disclosure: Dylan Kelley is a 2005 graduate of Chelsea High School.


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