CHAPMANVILLE — On Saturday night, Class AA’s third-ranked team in the Chapmanville Tigers moved their overall 2022-2023 record to 14-1 after a 69-58 win at Danny Godby Gym over the tenth-ranked team in AAA, Nitro.
The Tigers led 5-2 in the early going, but the visiting Wildcats reeled off five straight points to lead 7-4.
Chapmanville then took the lead back at 9-6 midway through the first quarter, but Nitro ended the period on an 11-2 run which was capped off by a bucket from Derek Lowe with 14 seconds left in the frame. The Wildcats led 17-11 heading into quarter number two.
Baskets by Sal Dean and Zion Blevins helped CRHS open the second quarter on a 7-0 run, and they led 18-17 with 6:26 left until halftime. Much of the rest of the second frame was tightly contested with both teams trading buckets.
The Tigers led by just one at 29-28 after a jumper from Nitro’s Scott Woodrum with 1:38 left until the break, but Chapmanville ended the half on a 5-0 run courtesy of a layup from Blevins with 8.2 seconds left on the clock. The hosts led 34-28 at the intermission.
Chapmanville largely controlled the third quarter as they opened it on another 5-0 run, and they led 39-28 with 6:17 left in the period after another basket from Blevins.
The Wildcats failed to reduce their deficit by less than seven points in the third frame. It was a 44-37 affair late in the quarter until two foul shots from Blevins and a putback layup from Dean with 54.8 seconds remaining sent CRHS into the fourth stanza with a 48-37 cushion.
The Tigers had plans to run away with the game and win easily as they built their advantage to 61-44 midway through the fourth, but Nitro wouldn’t go down without a fight.
Chapmanville led 63-47, but the Wildcats answered with an 11-0 run to come within five points of the home team at 63-58 with 1:05 left in the game.
However, the Tigers’ defense didn’t allow another point the rest of the contest, and Blevins calmly sank four free throws in the final minute while Isaiah Smith also hit a pair, and they left with a 69-58 victory.
After the game, Chapmanville head coach Brad Napier wasn’t happy with how his team’s lead evaporated from 61-44 to 63-58 late in the matchup.
“We have to be better than what we were tonight,” Napier said. “I’m not real pleased with the way we finished the game. It was sloppy. We had way too many turnovers. Gave up way too many offensive rebounds. We just have to be better. We played good in spurts, I thought, but we have to be better overall.”
Napier said that, going forward, his team has to be mentally focused to prevent teams from rallying against them and making things interesting like Nitro did in the fourth quarter Saturday night.
He also pointed out that he has a veteran team and that everybody who starts for his squad has started for three or four years at the varsity level. He knows they are capable of eliminating the mistakes made against the Wildcats.
“Just mental focus was all it is,” Napier said. “You kind of expect that to a point playing the third game in a week, in five days. When you play three in five days, that’s tough for your team to focus. Two of those were on the road and pretty long trips. But still, with an old team like we have, they have to be better.”
With a 14-1 record, you can probably guess that the Tigers have a chance to make some noise come postseason time.
Napier knows what his team has to do in order to achieve what they want to achieve going forward.
“You just have to focus each and every day and get better,” Napier said. “It’s about getting better every day and working on our weaknesses but also expanding on the things that we’re good at, and getting better on that stuff as well.”
Chapmanville will return to the court on Tuesday night to take on Bluefield in the Parmar Classic at West Virginia State University. Tipoff is slated for 6 p.m.
Chapmanville: Zion Blevins — 27 points, eight rebounds, two steals, two blocks, Isaiah Smith — 20 points, three assists, three steals, one rebound, Sal Dean — 12 points, 13 rebounds, six steals, four assists, Brody Dalton — Five points, eight rebounds, eight assists, one steal, Devon Workman — Three points, three rebounds, two assists, Eli Smith — Two points, Sam Miller — One assist, Landon Tomblin — One rebound