White inspirational leader for San Bernardino

I was going to have an article in tomorrow’s paper on San Bernardino senior guard Choncey White. However, the Cardinals were upset 62-54 by Manhattan Beach Mira Costa last night in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 2A playoffs, so the story won’t run.

Luckily, this is one of the main reasons I enjoy having this blog, because, quite frankly, White is one of the more impressive players I’ve had the pleasure to watch this season and deserves to be lauded. He stands about 5-foot-10, which means I can look him straight in the eye. But anyone who watches White knows that he plays much bigger than that.

“I go into the lane without fear because I really feel that no one can stop me,” White said. “They may be bigger than me, but I’m going to get where I want to go and I’m not going to be scared off by bigger players.”

White exhibited this tenacity in San Bernardino’s historic 83-57 victory at Cajon Jan. 19 – the Cardinals first victory over the Cowboys in 18 years. At a key juncture in the second quarter of what was a close game, White and Cajon’s 6-7 center Lorelle Martin were locked in a scramble for a loose ball when the bigger Martin pushed White out of the way.

White was unintimidated, getting right back into Martin’s face (or more accurately, arching his neck to talk to Martin at close range) and bugging the Cajon player to the point where Martin pushed him off, earning a technical foul and setting the fire for a Cardinal burst that eventually overwhelmed Cajon.

“Choncey is a quiet kid, a pretty serious kid but once he gets out on that floor, something goes off,” San Bernardino coach Darin Graham said. “He’s aggressive and the rest of the team feeds off of that.”

They fed off it to the tune of a perfect 14-0 record in the San Andreas League and a title, harkening memories of the Bryon Russell, Mark Seay, Ray Owes era of Cardinal basketball. And White’s work ethic was a big reason the Cardinals got there.

“Whenever I come to school to open up the gym, Choncey is there, getting ready to shoot baskets,” Graham said. “I’ll drive by the school and I’ll see him running the track, or I’ll see him working out in the pool. You can’t say anything bad about a kid like that. I’d love to have a whole team of Choncey Whites.”

Graham and White have known each other since Graham was named the Cardinal coach six years ago. During Graham’s first season, White, then in seventh grade, would hang around practice to watch his older brother Allen, a starting forward on the Cardinals.

“I knew that I wanted to be a Cardinal and was going to do whatever it took,” White said. “Coach Graham is an awesome coach and I wanted to play for him and play where my brothers did.”

Choncey’s oldest brother, Walter, also played for the Cardinals and holds the school record for 3-pointers according to Graham. But neither Walter or Allen did what their youngest brother did and win a league title, something Choncey is waiting until the exact right time to tease them about.

“I haven’t brought it up yet, but I will,” White said. “I have to. I’ll remind them of it whenever I need to.”