CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Chapmanville Regional Tigers are making history every day in the state tournament.
Chapmanville Regional High School came this week to Charleston having never won a game in the state tournament.
That also includes the many decades in the past of the former Chapmanville High School, which had never even made it to the state tournament.
The Tigers, though, are 2-0 and have reached Saturday afternoon’s Class AA state championship game.
Friday’s 57-40 win over Cinderella team Lincoln puts No. 3 seed Chapmanville Regional (23-4) in the state championship game against top seed and No. 1-ranked Fairmont Senior (24-3).
Fairmont advanced to the championship game with Friday night’s 62-44 victory over Mingo Central.
Chapmanville began state tourney play with a 65-42 win over Wyoming East on Thursday.
Now, the Tigers are on the brink of the school’s first-ever basketball state title.
For Chapmanville, it’s been a long journey.
“I’m just happy for these guys,” CRHS coach Brad Napier said. “They’ve worked extremely hard. They’ve put a lot of time in the weight room. Even on their off days they will come in and shoot 200, 300 or 400 shots. They work extremely hard on their game. I’m just happy for the community and our school.”
Chapmanville was led by 6-foot-8 freshman center Obinna Killen, who nearly had a triple-double as he finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocked shots in the win over Lincoln (13-14).
Kyle Browning also contributed 13 points for the Tigers, while Drew Williamson had 11 and Dylan Smith 10.
Browning, Smith and Williamson each hit on a trio of 3-point shots for Chapmanville. All were like daggers in the heart of the Cougars.
Lincoln, which was led by Chase Riley’s 19 points, trailed Chapmanville only by one point at halftime, 22-21.
The Tigers, though, went on a third quarter run, similar to the Wyoming East game, and put the Cougars away.
Killen put the exclamation point on the win with a driving one-handed slam dunk with two seconds left. It was his third jam of the game.
“I thought that Lincoln really came out with a good game plan,” Napier said. “They switched defenses on us in the first half and kind of got us off balance. They were unbelievably good early. I thought our guys focused on in in the second half and did much better getting the ball inside. We were more patient. On the defensive end we were more fundamentally sound in the second half and we didn’t gamble as much. In the first half we gambled and gave them some open looks.”
Napier said it was a different game in the second half.
“In the first half they were spreading us out and we got some OK looks,” he said. “But we didn’t get great looks. Then our guys were able to take their time more on their shots and step into them. We were more patient and more composed in the second half.”
Williamson hit three straight 3-pointers for the Tigers in the first quarter, giving CRHS a 13-6 lead.
Lincoln then seemed to key on him and left the door open for the Tigers’ other shooters.
“In the second half they were so worried about me that they forgot just how great these two players are,” Williamson said, pointing to his left and right in the post-game press conference to Smith and Browning. “They can shoot. They left them open and we made them pay for it.”
Napier said CRHS had a good inside/outside game.
“We told them we need to have a better inside presence,” he said. “In the first half they kind of got us off balance. They were switching things up and we could never get comfortable. In the second half we settled down a little bit and did a much better job getting the ball inside and kicking it out for 3s.”
Lincoln coach Jordan Toth said the Tigers simply wore down his team.
“We knew that they were going to be tough,” he said. “Their size kind of caught up to us in the second half. We got tired and it was a quick transition from a 1 o’clock game and that emotional high we felt yesterday to the quick turnarond in the morning session. We’re not using that as an excuse. They just kind of wore us down in the second half with their size and their rebounding.”
Chapmanville made its move in the third quarter.
Killen scored on a putback, then split from the foul line and scored on a putback as Chapmanville led 27-21.
Lincoln got back to within 27-24 with a 3 but that was as close as the Cougars would get.
Browning hit a 3 and Killen followed with his first slam dunk as CRHS led 32-24 with 4:19 left.
Hunter Neil then scored on a pair of inside buckets then Smith drilled back-to-back 3-pointers, powering the Tigers to a 42-28 lead after three periods of play. Smith’s last 3 came from 24 feet out with just one second left.
That gave Chapmanville the momentum heading into the fourth quarter.
“We had a hard time scoring in the third quarter but in the first half we played eyeball to eyeball with them,” Toth said. “I thought that we played hard and I thought that we played well. That’s a good team.”
In the fourth, Chapmanville continued to expand its lead.
Browning’s 3 made it 45-28 with 7:11 left in the game.
Smith later drilled another 3 as the lead swelled to 50-31 with 3:27 to go.
Killen then put the game away with pair of crowd-pleasing dunks in the game’s final seconds.
Neil finished with six points for Chapmanville. Freshman Philip Mullins also came off the bench to hit a 3-point shot.
Browning added seven rebounds and seven assists for Chapmanville. Williamson and Neil each hauled down four boards. Smith also handed out five assists.
Lincoln’s Jonathan Leep and Kobie Carpenter each had six points. Cory Fazalare had five points, while Kyle Owens and Hunter Moore tossed in two points each.
Chapmanville was 21-of-48 shooting for the game for 43.8 percent. CRHS was 10-for-23 from 3-point land for 43.5 percent. The Tigers made 5-of-6 free throws for 62.5 percent.
The Cougars were 35 percent shooting from the floor and just 5-for-8 from the foul line.
CRHS outrebounded Lincoln 34-24.
“These kids are winners and I’m proud of them,” Toth said. “No one expected us to play with Bluefield and no one expected us to play with Chapmanville for a half.”
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner.