CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Although Wednesday marked the first state tournament win in Shady Spring’s history, Tigers’ coach Ronnie Olson hasn’t hid from his team’s only intention being on winning a Class AAA championship.
“We’re not here for a second-place trophy,” Olson said.
In Friday’s state semifinal against seventh-seeded Winfield, the No. 3 Tigers put together a championship level performance on both ends to run away from the Generals for a 68-51 victory at the Charleston Coliseum.
Shady Spring (14-2) held Winfield (14-7) to 37 percent shooting, forced twice as many turnovers as the seven it committed and made 22-of-45 shots, including 10 of 22 from three-point range.
“What a feeling to be feeling in a state championship game and to know as a coach that everything you preach stands for these guys,” Olson said. “That defensive product was amazing. The best one we’ve had all year and maybe of all time at this point. Everybody talks about us shooting threes, but that defense was amazing.”
Outside of Winfield’s Ethan Kincaid making the game’s first basket, the Tigers never trailed.
Cameron Manns, one of four sophomores in Shady Spring’s starting lineup, hit a pair of three-pointers for his team’s first six points and classmate Braden Chapman added a triple to help the Tigers build a 17-12 lead ahead of the second quarter.
“(Manns) took exactly what the defense gave him and these guys have no problem with that,” Olson said.
The Generals weren’t at their best in the second period, but were still in the game and trailed 30-20 after Kincaid’s jump shot 1:49 before halftime.
Shady Spring then played for one shot and executed to perfection, with Manns connecting on a three just before halftime to give his team a 13-point advantage.
“We were trying to get to halftime in single digits,” Winfield coach Chris Stephens said. “As I told the boys at halftime, being down thirteen, if we could run up and down and get them on a cold streak, we could get back in the game.”
“When they make shots like they do, it’s very hard to get back in the game,” Stephens added.
While Winfield rattled off the first four points of the second half to make it a single-digit deficit, the Tigers put the game away by outscoring the Generals 14-5 over the remaining seven minutes in the period. Chapman scored eight of Shady’s 14 points in the frame.
Shady continued its stellar play in the fourth quarter, building a lead as large as 63-34 with 2:42 remaining, before the Generals hit four threes over the final 1:47.
“(The message was) stay hungry because this game is not over,” Olson said of his halftime remarks to his team. “They have four seniors and they want to win as much as we do. We won’t let up and we’re not done. We’re ready to cut the nets down tomorrow. That’s our only focus and our only goal.”
Chapman led all players with 22 points and added four steals. His twin brother Cole Chapman had 10 points and nine assists in the victory, while Manns made 6-of-8 shots and scored 16 points.
“I’m able to get by my defender and kick it to the open man,” Cole Chapman said. “The best shot is the open shot and we’re able to have that.”
Kincaid led Winfield with 14 points, while Seth Shilot had 11 points and eight rebounds.
After making 8-of-17 shots in the opening half, WHS shot 11 of 34 in the second half.
“They took us out of what we wanted to do,” Stephens said. “It was difficult. We tried to make several different adjustments to get mismatches in the post. It just didn’t play out in our favor at all.”
The Tigers will face the winner of No. 5 Wheeling Central/No. 8 Hampshire in the title game.