MADISON - The Class AA top ranked Tigers of Chapmanville used a smothering defensive press late in the fourth frame to fend off an inspired Scott Skyhawk basketball team as they won a hard-fought Cardinal Conference contest at the Hawks Nest, 67-59.
The game got off to a slow start for the Tigers (9-1) as Scott jumped out to an early lead on back-to-back buckets from Skyhawk guard Jon Hamilton and led 12-5 with 3:48 left in the first period.
The lead would be short-lived.
Philip Mullins brought the Tigers closer with a move on the baseline and a layup off the glass before 6-foot-9 Obinna Anochili-Killen put Chapmanville up for good with a tip-in with 4:39 to go in the second as the Tigers led 18-17.
Chapmanville went on a 10-7 run before intermission and took a 28-24 lead to the locker room.
Scott coach Steve McComas said his squad played a tough half but had some missed opportunities.
"We missed some opportunities under the basket," he said. "We handled the pressure pretty well and we played good defense."
Gavin Cooper was a key in Scott beating the press as his ball handling in both one-on-one situations and during ball-pressure moments when the Tigers turned up the heat at mid-court. Cooper and teammate Cole Moore found themselves in foul trouble, which was a caveat of Scott's aggressive defensive game plan.
Scott's Jagger Bell and Hamilton proved to be an inside-outside offensive combination that Chapmanville would have to defend.
At times, Scott (6-5) leaned on the perimeter shooting of Hamilton to stay close in the contest while Chapmanville created shots off the dribble and drove to the bucket garnering foul line opportunities and second-chance buckets off of offensive rebounds. Seniors Jordan Kish and Devin Collins hit key baskets in the third that served as daggers to the Skyhawk defensive effort. Scott had defensive position and the duo hit contested shots, time after time.
As the third period was coming to an end, Hamilton buried a three from the wing for Scott and then off of a Chapmanville turnover on the other end, the guard buried another trey as he was falling out of bounds in the corner by the student section as time in the quarter ran out. Chapmanville led 47-39 going into the final frame.
Scott, outsized by the Tigers, played aggressive defense on Obinna Anochili-Killen and held him in check for three quarters, but he would own the final frame as he put the Tigers on his back and scored nine points and hit 6-of-9 from the charity stripe in the game. With his Tigers up by six points at the 3:44 mark in the quarter, Kish stroked a 3-point shot that took the air out of the Skyhawks. The teams played to a 20-20 stalemate in the fourth as the Tigers took the win, 67-59.
Scott missed three highly contested layups late in the game that turned into transition points for coach Brad Napier's squad on the other end, two of which came at the free throw line. While Mullins was quiet in the second half, only scoring a bucket in the third, his defensive effort, particularly around the bucket on Skyhawk attempts in the paint, was a key component in the game.
Hopefully, we can take this effort and build on it," McComas added.
The Tigers are coming off of a 26-game winning streak dating back to last season. It was snapped on Dec. 27 with a 48-46 overtime loss to Cincinnati Oak Hills, Ohio.
Scott was coming off of a 2-1 stretch that saw them notch wins over Nicholas County, Gilmer County and a 2-point loss to Lincoln County on Jan. 4.
Chapmanville will host Poca on Jan. 10 and Scott will host Wayne that same night.
Score by quarters
Chapmanville: 8 20 19 20 - 67
Scott: 14 10 15 20 - 59
Chapmanville: O. Anochili-Killen 20, P. Mullins 15, D. Collins 13, J. Kish 10, B. Elkins 6, H. Cook 3
Scott: J. Hamilton 25, J. Bell 16, C. Moore 10, G. Cooper 4, C. Dingess 2, H. Adkins 2
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @philipdperry.