ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Chapa surprised by all-tournament selection

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was no surprise when Ellsworth's Cody Schilling and Aaron Van Der Stoep were named to the all-tournament team Saturday following the Panthers' 74-73 victory over Cass Lake-Bena in the Class A championship of the Boys' Minnesota ...

MINNEAPOLIS -- It was no surprise when Ellsworth's Cody Schilling and Aaron Van Der Stoep were named to the all-tournament team Saturday following the Panthers' 74-73 victory over Cass Lake-Bena in the Class A championship of the Boys' Minnesota state high school basketball tournament.

Both players had shined on the biggest stage in high school athletics and set records along the way.

While it wasn't a surprise to the Ellsworth faithful, Travis Chapa's inclusion on the all-tournament roster was unexpected by many -- including himself.

"It feels pretty awesome, I didn't really expect that," Chapa said following the title game. "Cody and Aaron are no-brainers -- but me? It's a surprise. I'm very happy to finish my career with such an honor."

One of several unsung heroes in the Panthers' lineup, Chapa's work regularly goes unnoticed. He doesn't score a great number of points or pull down countless rebounds. His job is to make sure the opposition's stars don't do that against his team.

ADVERTISEMENT

"My job on this team has always been to bang inside with the big boys -- the post men," the senior explained. "If I can keep them from having a big game, then I've done my job."

Chapa had his hands full during the tournament, being called upon to guard three of the better big men in the state.

First off was 6-foot-8 Matt Ulrich of Rushford-Peterson. Chapa helped the Panthers completely shut Ulrich down in the first half of their 77-66 overtime victory. Ulrich posted a scant two points in the first 18 minutes of play. Chapa also managed to score 11 points and grab seven rebounds against Ulrich.

Next up for the quiet 6-foot-3 forward was the highly touted Trevor Mbakwe from the No. 1-ranked St. Bernard's Bulldogs. While posting seven points, three boards and three assists, Chapa guarded Mbakwe so well that his play was a non-factor in the outcome of the contest -- an 85-63 victory which propelled the Panthers into the championship game against high-powered Cass Lake-Bena.

In the title game, Chapa faced Nate Salscheider. Standing 6-foot-5, the Cass Lake-Bena center possessed speed as well as height and often stepped out on the perimeter to look for shots.

"He was pretty quick, "Chapa said. "Definitely the fastest this week, but he was the smallest and spent a lot of time on the perimeter.

Chapa -- who was hammered without consequence for most of the game -- managed to score five points, but his eight rebounds (two offensive and six defensive) were huge for the smaller Panthers.

"I get used to not getting the foul," Chapa said of the many non-calls against him. "I just get back up and keep working."

ADVERTISEMENT

But there was a time, midway through the season, when Chapa was having difficulty working to his potential.

"Mid-season, we ran into a little bump with him," Ellsworth assistant coach Steve Kellen said. "We sat him down and said 'Hey, you're a major part of this team, and we want you to keep working hard at it -- keep your nose at it.' I asked him later if it was rewarding to stick it out, and he said, 'Yes, Coach, it was.'"

With graduation a few months away, Chapa also will have to stick it out with the books a little longer. After finishing his academic career in Ellsworth, Chapa hopes to attend SDSU, where he would like to study pharmacology.

With the work ethic he has developed with the Ellsworth Panthers and in the classroom, there's no doubt Chapa again be on top in whatever he undertakes in the future.

What To Read Next
Get Local

ADVERTISEMENT

Must Reads