CHARLESTON, W.Va. — It was a historic first win for the Chapmanville Regional High School basketball team on Thursday morning as the Tigers overwhelmed Wyoming East, 65-42, in the Class AA state quarterfinals at the Charleston Civic Center.
Twice Chapmanville Regional had come to the state tournament, including last year, only to come up empty-handed.
That all changed on Thursday as No. 3 seed Chapmanville (22-4) rolled to a win over the Warriors, setting up Friday morning’s 11:15 a.m. semifinal matchup against Cinderalla team Lincoln (13-13), the No. 7 seed, which upset No. 2 Bluefield, 63-59, on Thursday afternoon.
One more win and a victory over the upstart Cougars and the Tigers will be in Saturday afternoon’s Class AA state championship game.
“I’m sure that it means a lot to the community and the school and for everyone that’s followed us all year,” Chapmanville coach Brad Napier said about Thursday’s historic win. “We’ve had a really good following. I hope that they are really proud of these guys because I am. They’re a good group of guys to coach.”
Chapmanville jumped on top of Wyoming East early, taking a 21-6 first quarter lead, then holding a 26-9 edge early in the second quarter.
Wyoming East (15-11) rallied to within 28-23 late in the second quarter and trailed only 30-23 at the half.
However, the Tigers, led by 6-foot-3 junior guard Drew Williamson, went on a 19-0 run to put the Warriors away.
Williamson led all scorers with 23 points. He hit 4-of-6 shots from 3-point land and was 9-of-11 shooting overall, including a perfect 5-of-5 in two-point shots.
Williamson, an All-Stater and First-Team All-Cardinal Conference pick, set the tone early in the game, draining two open 3-pointers to give Chapmanville an early 6-0 lead on East.
“I got loose in warm-ups,” Williamson said. “When I hit those first two 3s and made them, I knew that I was on.”
But it wasn’t just Chapmanville’s hot shooting.
The Tigers also came to play on defense.
Williamson said the Tigers picked it up on the defensive end and really didn’t want Wyoming East to hang around any longer.
“We talked at halftime about our defensive intensity and getting it back to where it was,” Wiliamson said. “We came out on fire and then we started slacking. Coach got us in the locker room for it. We bascially wanted to come out in the first three minutes in the second half and end it.”
Napier said his team allowed the Warriors to get back into the game after losing some of its fire.
That was quickly corrected.
“I thought that we opened up the game really quick and a really good start,” Napier said. “That gave us a boost and some confidence. We were really getting after them defensively for a while. I thought we kind of lost some of our intensity toward the end of the second quarter. We took some quick shots, too, and we weren’t patient enough on offense. We came out in the second half and re-established ourselves I thought and played much better.”
Chapmanville’s Hunter Neil started the 19-0 run with a putback in the paint, giving the Tigers a 30-23 halftime lead.
Chapmanville then turned it up in the third quarter, continuing the run.
Neil’s inside hoop at the 7:45 mark got the Tigers started in the second half. Williamson then hit back-to-back 3s, putting Chapmanville on top 38-23, forcing Wyoming East to call timeout at the 6:26 mark.
The run was complete with 4:32 left as Smith scored on a steal and layup as Chapmanville led 47-23. Devin Collins also hit a 3 during the scoring spree.
Chapmanville led 53-31 after three as Williamson drilled a 19-footer and then scored on a drive to the lane with nine ticks left.
The Tigers, however, weren’t done.
The lead continued to swell in the fourth quarter.
Williamson hit an 18-footer, Obinna Killen scored on an old-fashioned three-point play and then he added another bucket on a power move to the lane as the Tigers led 60-34 with 3:07 left.
Chapmanville led by as many as 27 points late in the fourth.
The Tigers shot 52.3 percent from the floor for the game, making 23-of-44 shots. Wyoming East was just 13-for-44 for 29.5 percent. The Tigers made 13-of-18 free throws for 72.2 percent. The Warriors were 10-for-20 from the foul line for 50 percent.
CRHS outrebounded East 31-30.
The Tigers also got 11 points, three rebounds and two blocked shots from Killen.
Collins had eight points off the bench and three assists. Smith and Neil had six points each, while Kyle Browning had four points. Philip Mullins had three points and Brennan Williams and Tyler Moore had two each.
Browning led the Tigers in rebounds with seven. Smith dished out five assists and had a game-high six steals.
Dylan Brehm and Zach Cook led Wyoming East with 10 points each. Both, however, battled foul trouble and ended up fouling out.
Jon Sims had seven points for the Warriors, while Corey McKinney had six and Caden Lookabill three. Logan Mullins, Ethan England and McQuade Canada had two each. Cook had a double-double as he also pulled down 10 rebounds.
Chapmanville outscored Wyoming East in the paint 30-12.
“I’m super proud of you guys. As soon as I got the position they were in the gym seven days a week. Nobody expected us to be here at all,” Wyoming East coach Derek Brooks said. “We were picked pretty much next to last in our section. These guys had that feel all year of exceeding those expectations that everyone set for them. They were going to prove everyone wrong. I’m so proud of these guys.”
Brooks said Williamson was tough to handle.
“We knew that he was a player,” Brooks said. “He averages 21 points a game and we wanted to hold him to 10 or 15 and kind of just get him off his game but he did a good job of not letting us do that.”
Brooks said foul trouble hurt his team.
“Brehm was hot at the moment but he picked up his third foul,” he said. “We had to bring him out. He was the one really scoring the points for us. He got us back into the game in that little run. It’s hard for us when he has to come out of the game because he plays a bunch of minutes for us. Our top five probably average about 25 or 26 minutes per game. It was big for him to get into foul trouble and for Sims too. He got his third foul early and had to come out of the game. He’s our leading scorer. That hurt us and we couldn’t get into any rhythm.”
The Tigers led 21-6 after one following a 3-pointer by Collins at the buzzer.
McKinney then hit a 3 for Wyoming East to make it 21-9 before Williamson completed an old-fashioned three-point play and then Killen drove to the lane for a two-handed slam dunk to make it 26-9 CRHS with 6:07 left before halftime.
The Warriors then went on a 14-2 run, pulling to within 28-23 with 2:04 left following a pair of free throws by Brehm.
It was all for naught, however, as the Tigers dominated play the rest of the way.
Brooks said his team worked hard just to make it to the state tournament and saluted his outgoing seniors, including Mullins, Sims, McKinney, Brehm and Cook.
“You can’t say enough about those guys,” Brooks said. “There’s probably not another group of seniors that has put in the kind of work that these guys have. They have dedicated, not only the last four years, but for their whole life, this game of basketball. It was a good moment for them to make it here to the state tournament to compete at a championship level. I’m super proud of them.”
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner.