CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Zion Blevins made a strong impression in his debut at the Charleston Coliseum. As a result, Chapmanville is one to step closer to having an opportunity to defend its Class AA championship.
The fifth-seeded Tigers got 18 points and eight rebounds from Blevins, a 6-foot-6 freshman who keyed Chapmanville to a 46-38 victory over No. 4 seed Clay County in a state quarterfinal.
“Our guys did a really good job of closing the game out in the second half,” Tigers’ coach Brad Napier said. “We’ve been more of a second half team all year.”
The Tigers — Class AA champions in 2018 and 2019 — will face No. 1 Williamstown in a Friday semifinal.
Although Chapmanville (9-6) held an 11-3 lead after a Devon Workman three-pointer later in the first quarter, the Panthers (12-4) battled back to lead 16-13 at halftime.
Chapmanville made only 1-of-15 shots in the second period, while a three-pointer from Clay County’s Colten Pritt marked the only points over the final 3:51 of the half and allowed the Panthers to take a 16-13 lead into the break.
“It seemed like the second quarter lasted an hour,” Napier said.
Considering Clay County held the Tigers to 6-of-28 shooting in the first half, it’s advantage likely would have been greater were it not for nine turnovers.
“They put pressure out front on us and we struggled,” Panthers’ coach Scott Gibson said.
Trailing 20-17 a couple minutes into the third quarter, the Tigers used an 8-3 spurt over the remainder of the period to go ahead for good. Blevins, who had four points over the first 20 minutes of the contest, scored six during the third-quarter surge to help Chapmanville take a 25-23 lead into the fourth.
“I was a little nervous at first and kind of settled in for the second half,” Blevins said.
An 11-2 run to start the final period allowed the Tigers to take control for good. Blevins had a pair of buckets from close range, while Brody Dalton made a three-pointer and layup and Isaiah Smith provided the other basket.
The Panthers got no closer than eight over the final 5:28.
“We’re young and it takes a while for us to settle in and play,” Napier said. “We started off really well in the firstst quarter, then Brody got in foul trouble and it kind of got us out of our flow. But in tournament time, the second half has definitely been out strong suit.”
Outside of Blevins shooting 9 for 16, the remainder of the Tigers were 9 for 32.
Dalton scored nine points to go with five rebounds, while Colton Craddock had eight points, five assists and three steals. Workman added seven points and five steals.
Chapmanville had only 11 turnovers and forced 19, helping compensate for being out-rebounded, 38-28.
Curtis Litton had a strong effort in defeat, recording a double-double of 15 points and 13 rebounds. Tanner Faulkner gave the Panthers a second double figure scorer with 12 points and contributed nine rebounds. Clay County’s remaining three starters combined for only five points and the Panthers were held to 13 of 43 shooting.
“The sun will come up tomorrow,” Gibson said. “It won’t be quite as bright, but it it’ll come up.”