Gallery by Tina Laney
New Richmond – Clashes between top-ranked teams most often come down to a key play.
Wednesday night it was an offensive rebound.
Rebounding a missed free throw, Benji Adkins crashed the offensive glass and kicked the ball out to Cameron Blevins who drilled a 3-ball with 1:15 to play in the contest.
The shot from Blevins proved to be the deciding bucket for Chapmanville in a 43-42 win over Wyoming East.
“It was a good game, but I am a little frustrated right now. I preached that before the game, at practice and in the timeouts. Rebound, rebound, rebound. We have to box out,” Wyoming East head coach Derek Brooks said. “It came down to that. That was the dagger and ended up being the winning shot. We are bad for that. We don’t rebound the ball well on the free throw line. We are just not physical enough and they pushed us around.”
The game was a defensive grinder all night, featuring eight ties and 13 lead changes.
Wyoming East led 12-10 after one quarter thanks to a Cole Lambert 3-pointer from the logo just over half-court.
Drew Berry answered Lambert’s heroics with with his own 3-pointer just before the halftime horn to give the Tigers a 24-22 advantage at the break.
“Wyoming East is playing at a really high level right now. They are playing as good as anybody in the state. We knew coming over here that we were going to be in for a battle,” Chapmanville head coach Brad Napier said. “It turned out to be a really good one. It was a defensive struggle and I thought both teams played really well, especially on defense. It made the other team execute and do things they don’t like to do as much.”
The third period was no different with both teams going back-and-forth before Chapmanville took a 35-32 lead into the final quarter of play.
A pair of free-throws from all-stater Zion Blevins gave the Tigers their biggest lead of the night and appeared to be the momentum needed to close the game out.
East was not going away and responded with a 7-0 spurt to regain the lead with just under four minutes to play.
Konnor Fox scored inside before a stickback from Braxton Morgan turned into a conventional 3-point play to tie the game at 37-apiece.
A score from Bryson Huff aided by an assist from Lambert created the 10th lead change of the ballgame.
“We hit a couple of key shots and ran some pretty good offense in that stretch,” Brooks said. “I thought they did a good job of stopping Cole from getting downhill with their switches. We have to move the ball a little quicker after the first pass. We held on to it and let them recover from help-side.”
With his team on the brink of pulling away, Napier tipped his hat to Wyoming East for the key run.
“I think that was just good play on their side. They did a really good job and we probably got a little fatigued. Joey Gollihue has the flu and was pretty sick. Had it not been such an important game, he wouldn’t have been playing to be honest with you. He had a fever before the game,” Napier explained. “We have been battling the flu bug. Everybody on our team has had it the last two weeks. We have another one of our main guys out with a sprained ankle, so we don’t have a lot of depth. But, I thought the guys we brought in off the bench were very productive.”
Prior to the big shot later in the game, Cameron Blevins gave the lead back to Chapmanville with a triple with 2:47 to play.
“He likes to shoot,” Napier said with a chuckle. “He has never met a shot that he doesn’t like. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes that is a bad thing. He doesn’t shy away from taking those bad shots for sure.”
A corner 3-ball from Zach Hunt with 1:38 to play set the stage for the dramatic finish.
Making the crucial offensive rebound sting even more, was the fact that it was actually the second one surrendered during the crucial possession.
Trenton Adkins grabbed a miss and was fouled on the stickback attempt. Adkins misfired on both free-throws, but Benji Adkins swooped in for the key rebound.
“If we get that rebound, we are up two and they have to foul us four times,” Brooks said. “We could have run some clock off. That is the one where you have to have it in your head that you are going to get the rebound. If I have to run over somebody to go get it, I will take the foul.”
Adding a little salt to the wound was the fact that East had three looks near the rim down the stretch and could not score on the final possession thanks to a block from Zion Blevins to seal the win.
“It was tough for Cole to get it off there at the end. I felt like we missed a backside screen to get Blevins off of him. That way Cole would have had somebody else on him where he could have created,” Brooks said. “Zion is long and athletic. He can guard. Hats off to Chapmanville. They are a good defensive team and they hit the big shot there at the end.”
Cameron Blevins scored 16 points and had four 3-pointers, while Gollihue added 11 points. Lambert scored 17 for East, while Huff and Morgan had eight points each.
“We had some big plays and they had some big plays too. We gave up an offensive rebound and a 3-point play to let them back in the game when we were on a little run,” Napier said. “It was two teams that were just battling and neither team wanted to lose. I think both teams saw this as an important game.”
Coming off a win over Williamstown Monday in the ParMar Stores Shootout at the Big House at W.Va. State, East nearly pulled off its second shocker of the week Wednesday.
“In two separate polls that is two No. 1 teams we played,” Brooks said. “We beat Williamstown and I felt like we should have won this one. I really think we can play with anybody in the state.”
C: 10 14 11 8 – 43
WE: 12 10 10 10 – 42
Zion Blevins 7, Joey Gollihue 11, Benji Adkins 2, Cameron Blevins 16, Drew Berry 7.
Cole Lambert 17, Zack Hunt 5, Bryson Huff 8, Braxton Morgan 8, Konnor Fox 4.