When Chatsworth Sierra Canyon lost to Torrance Bishop Montgomery on Jan. 5, people were laughing at the Trailblazers for being unable to win even though Bishop Montgomery was missing three starters. They were dismissed as an overrated all-star team of transfer students with no chemistry.
Two months later, Sierra Canyon (27-4) proved itself to be the best boys' basketball team in California by winning the state Open Division championship.
For blending in personalties and getting his high-profile players to produce and sacrifice for the good of the team, Andre Chevalier has been selected The Times' boys' basketball coach of the year.
A year ago before Chevalier arrived, Sierra Canyon had fallen short in the Southern Section Open Division semifinals despite having future Duke star Marvin Bagley III. This season, despite boasting several sons of former NBA players, the Trailblazers were underachieving under their new coach.
But Chevalier's calm demeanor helped keep his players focused and ready to adapt during crucial situations.
Sierra Canyon played a series of nerve-racking playoff games and ended up beating Bishop Montgomery twice, first in double overtime and then again in overtime. Each time, execution late in the game enabled the Trailblazers to prevail.
When Sierra Canyon lost to Santa Ana Mater Dei by two in the Southern Section Open Division final, Chevalier and the Trailblazers regrouped and ran off four straight wins to emerge as state champions.