The Tigers were tight early on in Tuesday night’s Class AA Region 4 sectional tournament game against the scrappy Scott Skyhawks and fell behind by 12 points.
Chapmanville’s shooters were off the mark for much of the night and all-state senior center Todd Terry had an uncharacteristic off night.
The Tigers rallied back, but squandered two chances to win the ballgame at the end of regulation and in the final seconds of the first overtime.
It just didn’t look like Chapmanville’s night.
However, the Tigers reached down and dug deep, taking the Chapmanville basketball program to one of its finest hours ever with last night’s trilling 72-71 victory over the underdog Skyhawks before a jam-packed crowd at Logan High School’s Willie Akers Arena.
The rewards for last night’s victory are immediate.
The victory advances the No. 10-ranked Tigers (17-6) into Friday night’s Class AA sectional championship game at Logan against No. 8 Tug Valley (14-5), which advanced to the finals after disposing of Tolsia, 71-51, in Tuesday night’s other sectional tourney game at LHS.
Win or lose on Friday night, the Tigers have already advanced to next week’s Class AA regional co-championship game on March 11, meaning Chapmanville is just two games away from its ultimate goal — reaching the state tournament for the first time in school history.
But it almost didn’t come into fruition.
Scott, playing with nothing to lose, looked like the better team for a large part of last night’s ballgame. The Skyhawks (8-14) had lost to the rival Tigers twice during the regular season but the last meeting — a narrow 61-60 setback on Feb. 18 at Chapmanville — had given the Skyhawks hope.
They nearly pulled it off.
Chapmanville first-year coach Harry Kirk said he was glad to get the win and move on.
Many people expected this kind of close battle with Scott, including Kirk.
“Absolutely,” he said. “When you look at the two games that we played each other during the regular season, especially the last one down at home you knew that it was going to be close. (Scott) Coach (Jason) Kingery does a nice job with them. I know a lot of people who had this game as a toss-up tonight and I did, too. We came in here tonight not expecting anything easy.”
Sophomore Matt Cook scored the eventual game-winner for Chapmanville in the double overtime as he hit one of two free throws to put the Tigers ahead 72-71 with 3.8 ticks to go in the second OT. Earlier in the game he got blood splattered on his No. 23 jersey and had to change by rule into another uniform. Cook grabbed the No. 50 jersey. He had bloodied his elbow after falling hard to the floor.
Scott got the ball back after Cook’s foul shot but Shawn Ballard’s 35-foot heave at the buzzer crashed hard off the glass no good and Chapmanville’s on-court celebration began.
“We pulled it out and we hung in there,” Kirk said. “We look at those two point blank shots that we missed at the end of regulation and at the end of the first overtime and you think, ‘Well, maybe it’s not meant to be.’ But then you look back at Dustin Woody’s shot at the end of the third quarter and that goes in and gets us going and you say, ‘Well, maybe it was meant to be.’”
Kirk was referring to Woody’s half-court make at the end of the third quarter which pulled Chapmanville to within 50-44. It seemed to spark Chapmanville which had trailed by 12 points in the third but rallied back to take a late lead and tie it at 60 after regulation. The game was tied at 65 after the first overtime.
“It gave us a lift and it gave us a workable margin going into the fourth quarter,” Kirk said of Woody’s miracle shot. “We would have been down nine but it made it a bit easier.”
The Tigers were aided in their comeback by Scott’s inept free throw shooting. For the game, the Skyhawks were a woeful 15-of-32 from the foul line for 46.8 percent. Chapmanville was 15-of-21 for 71 percent and also beat the Skyhawks on the boards, 38-33, and turned the ball over just 11 times to Scott’s 24 miscues.
“They shot them a lot better in the two regular season games,” Kirk said of Scott’s free throws. “We were pretty good. Sometimes that’s just the bounce of the ball. For whatever reason we were lucky to win tonight but what I liked about the kids was that they refused to quit. They hung in there and were battling and fighting. They just don’t quit and that’s been a pattern for us this year. As long as they refuse to quit what more can you ask?”
Chapmanville was led by Cliff Hall’s 20 points and four steals.
Cook and Woody had 11 points each. Woody dished out four assists, while Cook had three steals.
Terry was held to nine points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in the first overtime.
Senior Bubba Conley was Chapmanville’s unsung hero as he came off the bench to score eight points, grab seven rebounds and block two shots.
“Conley stepped up tonight. He was absolutely awesome,” Kirk said of his reserve forward. “If we had a game ball to give away tonight we would have given it away to Bubba Conley. We haven’t played him much in the last week or so but he was big for us tonight.”
Ethan Brumfield added six points, while Zack Maynard had four points and four assists. Brooks Cooper chipped in with three points.
Justin Harmon, Scott’s 6-7 junior center, led the Skyhawks with 29 points. Jesse Belcher had 13 and Ballard 10, while Tyler Ramsey had seven, Matthew Dolan five, Tyler Thompson four and Billy Queen three.
After Woody’s half-court hoop, the Tigers bounced back in the fourth quarter.
Cook’s 15-footer with 5:32 left in regulation tied the game at 52 and finished Chapmanville’s 8-2 run.
The game was tied at 54 on a Conley bucket before Hall’s 10-foot runner in the lane put the Tigers on top for the first time in the game at 56-54 with 3:21 remaining in the ballgame.
Scott later went on top 59-58 but Woody’s drive off the window made it 60-59 Tigers with 1:38 left.
Thompson tied it at 60 as he split from the foul line with 1:23 left but missed a baseline shot badly underneath the hoop with 45 seconds to go, opening the door for the Tigers.
Chapmanville got the ball back but missed on two shots as time expired.
In the first OT, the Tigers never trailed.
Down 65-64 with 20.5 seconds left, Scott had the opportunity to go ahead but Dolan only hit one of two free throws to tie the game up at 65.
Chapmanville again had last possession but the Tigers missed again on a couple of shots as the first overtime time buzzer went off, sending the game to a second overtime.
Scott had led the Tigers 14-8 after one quarter and 31-26 at the half.
The Skyhawks jumped on top of a flat Tiger team by a 9-0 score early in the first quarter, forcing Coach Kirk to call timeout.
Chapmanville now turns its attention to Tug Valley and Friday night’s sectional finals.
The Panthers had no trouble with Tolsia on Tuesday as the Rebels closed out the season with a 12-8 record.
Seniors Nathan Brewer and Michael Evans tossed in 17 points each to lead the Panthers, while senior point guard Channing Preece netted 16 points. Austin Vance had eight, while Nathaniel Sturgell and 6-9 Mason Pack had four each, Cody Varney had three and Justin Kirk had two points.
Jacob Copley led Tolsia with a 20-point effort. Mackenzie Martin was Tolsia’s only other double-digit scorer on the night with 10 points.
Tug Valley beat Chapmanville twice in two close ballgames this season, downing the Tigers 80-76 at Chapmanville and also owning a 92-80 overtime win at Naugatuck on Feb. 19, a game that is still fresh in many people’s minds.
“Tug Valley is an awesome team,” Coach Kirk said. “They have all of the ingredients. They have experience, size and shooters. We’ve been fortunate enough to play with the twice and we hope to do it again on Friday night.”