LOCKPORT — The strength of bonds can take you to heights you've never reached.
Just a few years ago, Devon Darrell and Torree Cheatham were roaming the backcourt for Dave Gilson and the Lockport Lions. Now the two have come full circle, teammates once again at Division III D'Youville College.
"It's good because me and DD been playing together since we were young," Cheatham said. "So we've got good chemistry. That's a big reason why I went to D'Youville."
During the 2017-18 season, Darrell led the Lions to a 16-5 record, averaging 17 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals a game during his senior campaign.
Having played together over the years as teammates and even on the same Gus Macker teams, he and Cheatham were able develop a strong chemistry even before that year, especially due to their complimentary playing styles.
"Like he said, we've been playing like most of our lives, so we know what each other is best at," said Darrell, who plays more on the ball at point guard, while Cheatham plays more off the ball as a wing scorer. "Like when I should give him the ball, when he should give me the ball, like (knowing) what he's better at doing."
Darrell was able to establish himself in his freshman season with the Spartans. He started 24 games in 2018-19, averaging 11.5 points per 40 minutes played on 44.8% shooting. He also averaged 3.4 rebounds and team highs of 3.5 assists, 1.3 steals and a plus-45 plus/minus.
He really made his mark as a bucket-getter, though; he scored in double figures on 10 occasions, including a season-high 21 points against Penn St.-Behrend.
"Coming in as a freshman, they didn't really have a point guard, so it was just there for me to take," Darrell said.
" ... But when I came in, Coach (Earl Schunk) told me I was already starting. I just wanted to get us to the playoffs, get us a (championship), but we fell short (of) the 'ship. I took us to the playoffs for the first time in four years actually. We had a better overall record than in the history probably, honestly. ... But the same goal this year is a championship, but we're not gonna fall short."
And he's right; last season's 11-15 mark was just the fourth double-digit win season for the program since the 2005-06 season and is the most amount of wins for the Spartans in that span.
While 'DD' was making history in the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference, Cheatham was lighting things up for the Lions in his senior season. Cheatham averaged 20 points, 4.5 rebounds and two steals per game and came up just four points shy of the 1,000-point club, helping Lockport to a 15-7 record and a sectional playoff game at Buffalo State for the first time since 2013-14.
"Me already playing for the team, I knew what the team needed. So I told coach we needed Torree," Darrell said. "Because he could be a big asset to the team. What Torree brings to the table is basically what any team would need. ... He's honestly a great player. (He's) just great to have on my team."
"Obviously it's my first year so it's gonna take a little bit getting used to since the game's faster and there's stronger people up there," Cheatham said. "But we've been having open runs, and I'm liking the college and I'm getting used to it more. So I think I'll be ready."
Cheatham may only be entering his freshman year, but he wants to achieve personal goals that Darrell hit last season.
"(My goal is) to be in the starting lineup," Cheatham said. "I'm (gonna) try to outwork other guys in practice to get in the starting lineup."
Having such a strong bond off the court should help these two on the court. But they both talked about what it should be like sharing the floor with someone that's like a brother when basketball isn't involved.
"We've got a lot in common. We like watching rap battles, we like playing video games," Cheatham said. "All that. ... So we get along well."
"Our chemistry off the court, I feel like it builds more chemistry on the court. So that helps a lot," Darrell said.
Having last been teammates in 2018, these Lockport alumnus are looking forward to once again taking the floor on the same squad.
"I just want us to be dogs again," Darrell said. "You know, back in high school we was dogs. We had a year together and that was a great feeling."
"For me, I loved playing with him, when I was junior and he was a senior," Cheatham said. "And like I felt bad because we didn't get to Buff State his senior year. So (we'll) try to make up for that in college. That's my goal."
D'Youville was picked to finish ninth in the 11-team AMCC's preseason coaches poll. The Spartans opened their home slate Friday night vs. Wells College.
For more from sports reporter Khari Demos, follow him on Twitter @riri_demos. Also, tune in to Khari as a guest on Tony Caligiuri's 'Inside High School Sports,' 10 a.m. Saturdays on WGR550.