Chapmanville closes strong, beats Bluefield 57-50 for berth in Class AA title game

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Despite his team trailing for less than 1 minute of Friday’s Class AA semifinal against Bluefield, Chapmanville boys basketball coach Brad Napier figured the Tigers would have a tough time maintaining separation.

Sure enough, the second-seeded Beavers scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to pull even with the Tigers, but it proved not to be enough.

Chapmanville maintained its poise and outscored Bluefield 14-7 over the final 4:58, allowing the Tigers to claim a 57-50 victory for a spot in Saturday’s Class AA final.

“That was a war from the very start. We knew it would be. I told our guys we had to play better than we’d played all year and we did that,” Napier said. “Our defense was really good. We ran our sets better than we have all year and that was in crucial situations. We did what we had to do at the right time.”

The No. 3 Tigers led 43-32 late in the third quarter, but Bluefield (19-8) got a three-pointer from Caleb Fuller just before time expired in the frame to trim the Beavers’ deficit to eight.

That momentum carried over into the final period, and before it was 2 minutes old, the Beavers trailed by three after getting three points from R.J. Hairston and a layup from William Looney. When Kam’Ron Gore canned a triple with 5:18 remaining, the contest was tied at 43.

“They got on a little bit of a run and when you’re playing against a really good team like Bluefield, they’re going to go on runs,” Napier said. “You have to understand that and can’t lose your composure, because if so, then a 10-0 run goes to a 20-2 run.“

The Tigers, however, never wavered. Instead, Zion Blevins broke the tie with a bucket and teammate Sal Dean drilled a trey 44 seconds later, allowing Chapmanville (22-3) to lead, 48-43.

The Beavers didn’t go away quietly and were to within two at 50-48, before Dean connected again from behind the arc, giving the Tigers a five-point lead with 2:26 remaining.

“We had a lot of guys make big plays. Those two shots [Dean’s fourth-quarter threes] were crucial. One of them was off a set play and when he came off that double at the top, he was wide open,” Napier said. “If he has open shots, he’s going to make them.”

Isaiah Smith then scored near the basket for a seven-point lead with 2:02 left, and that was more than enough to keep Chapmanville in front. The Beavers did make a field goal after Fuller’s layup at the 3:37 mark, and the Beavers made only 3-of-7 free throws over the final 3:55 and 4 of 9 for the quarter.

“We lost to a really good team. I’m sure they were gunning for us,” BHS head coach Buster Large said. “We found a way to get back in it. We clawed back to within two. Free throws killed us at the end.”

Bluefield, which defeated Chapmanville during a neutral site regular season matchup, got off to a sluggish start and trailed 13-8 through one quarter. The Beavers made only 4-of-14 shots in the first quarter and missed all three of their threes, while the Tigers got two triples from reserve Sam Miller in the opening quarter to play from in front.

“Sam was huge. The first couple he hit was at a shaky time in the game and he gave our whole team confidence,” Napier said.

But BHS was better in the second frame, and Fuller’s triple 10 seconds into the quarter marked the first points of that quarter.

Looney and Gore added back-to-back baskets that turned a four-point deficit into a 22-all tie, but Brody Dalton’s layup in the closing seconds of the half allowed Chapmanville to lead by two at the break.

Bluefield went to halftime having made 10-of-30 shots, including 8 of 23 inside the three-point line. However, by scoring nine points off turnovers and attempting eight more shots than the Tigers, the Beavers were within one possession.

“You have to make shots inside the paint. We blew so many layups,” Large said. 

The Tigers then executed offensively at a high level for the entirety of the third quarter, making 9-of-14 field-goal attempts and leading by as much as 11 at 41-30 after Miller made his third trey and Blevins followed with a short jumper.

Dalton scored six points in the frame and Dean added four, while the Tigers outscored the Beavers 19-13 during that time.

The Tigers finished shooting 50 percent (24 for 48) and made 6-of-14 threes. 

“They hit some big shots and good teams find a way to do that,” Large said.

Napier’s team also out-rebounded Bluefield, 36-28.

Dean scored 19 points and added seven boards and five assists. 

“It was a big one. It’s to get to the state championship and we had lost to them early in the season,” Dean said. “I’d been wanting to get them ever since we lost to them.”

Dalton scored 14 points to go with seven boards and Blevins contributed a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds.

“I knew this could be a physical game so I had to get some rebounds and put them back up when I could,” Blevins said.

Hairston led Bluefield with 15 points. Gore added 11 with seven assists, Fuller also scored 11 and Looney scored nine to go with a team-high 10 rebounds.

The Beavers made 9-of-15 two-point shots after halftime.

“We’ve played well inside the paint. Sometimes, you’re off balance and not using proper fundamentals and sometimes you don’t use the backboard. It wasn’t good in the first half, but we made adjustments and came back better in the second half,” Large said. “Just fell a little short.”

(Chapmanville postgame press conference)

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