Dayne Herl, William Chrisman overwhelm Belton in season opener

Bill Althaus
The Examiner

A packed gymnasium, a pair of dazzling new high-tech scoreboards and a rivalry game to kick off the 2021-22 boys basketball season at William Chrisman High School. 

It doesn’t get much better than that, especially when senior guard Dayne Herl puts on a clinic in a 66-51 Suburban Middle Six Conference victory over Belton. 

Herl shot 12 of 12 from the free throw line and just missed two field goal attempts from the floor as he finished with a game-high 32 points and the praise of his coach and teammates. 

“Dayne is a man-child,” Bears coach Jake Kates said. “He has grown up so much, especially between last year and this year. He is a real leader out on the court, and that comes from maturity and experience. 

William Chrisman senior guard Dayne Herl drives to the hoop against Belton defender Giovanni Mack (2) in Tuesday's season and home opener. Herl poured in 32 points to spark the Bears to a 66-51 victory over their Suburban Middle Six Conference rival.

“All the guys have worked hard this offseason and we think we have the chance to be a pretty good team.” 

Fellow senior guard Cam Dickerson, who finished with 10 points, also praised Herl. 

“Dayne was great tonight,” Dickerson said. “When they started to double up on him, he got the ball to a teammate for a wide-open shot. That’s what the real team players do. It was fun to be on the court with him tonight. 

“This could be a great season.” 

Herl was the picture of consistency, scoring seven points in the first quarter, including a 3-point buzzer beater that gave the Bears a 14-13 lead. He added four in the second, nine in the third and 12 in the fourth, with 10 coming from the free throw line.

William Chrisman junior guard Sir'Rahn Felix (1) steals a pass and dishes off to a teammate in one move in Tuesday's season opener against Belton. The Bears claimed a 66-51 victory over their Suburban Middle Six Conference rival.

“I haven’t been a horrible free throw shooter,” Herl said after the game, as he visited with friends, former teammates and family members, “but I worked really hard during the offseason to be a better free throw shooter, and I think it showed tonight. 

“It’s kind of unusual to start a season against a rival – and they are one of our biggest conference rivals – and our first goal this year is to win conference. 

“And I think the way we played showed them how serious we are about winning conference.” 

The Bears had one lapse at the end of the second period in which three straight turnovers led to four Pirate points, cutting the Bears halftime lead to 29-24. 

“That was addressed at halftime, and I thought we came out and did a nice job in the second half,” Kates said. “It was a very good way to start the season, with a win against a conference opponent, but as a coach, I saw a lot of things we need to work on.”

William Chrisman senior guard Cam Dickerson (10) drives to the hoop between Belton defenders Ray Fuller, left, and Giovanni Mack, right, in Tuesday's season and home opener. Dickerson finished with 10 points as the Bears claimed a 66-51 victory over their Suburban Middle Six Conference rival.

When that comment was relayed to Herl he grinned and said, “There are a lot of things we need to work on. I can’t wait to get into the gym tomorrow.” 

Senior guard Jessie Minter added 11 points for Chrisman. 

Greg Lyles led the Pirates with 21 points. Giovanni Mack scored nine points in the first quarter and finished with 11. 

Another aspect of the game that made the night special was the return of many former Bears athletes, including Dayne’s brother, Dawson Herl, and Kelvyn Mason, Daniel Carson, Amanda Szopinski, Jolee Sparks and Jordan Twenter. 

“Man, I love to look in the stands and see our former players come back and support this year’s team,” Kates said. “That’s how you build a culture, and that’s what we’re doing here at Chrisman.”

William Chrisman senior guard Jesse Minter (3) handles the ball against Belton defender Giovanni Mack (2) in Tuesday's season opener. Minter finished with 11 points as the Bears claimed a 66-51 victory over their Suburban Middle Six Conference rival.