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Fourth quarter finish propels Tigers to semifinal win over Beavers, 57-50

Chapmanville's Sam Miller (1) guards Bluefield's Sencere Fields (2) during the third quarter of the Tigers 57-50 victory over the Beavers in the Class AA semifinals Friday night at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center (Photo courtesy of CKG Graphics).

Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports

CHARLESTON Brad Napier and the Chapmanville Tigers are back in the Class AA championship game for the first time in four years after a strong fourth quarter finish.

Sal Dean scored 19 points to lead third-seeded Chapmanville to the state championship game with a 57-50 win over second-seeded Bluefield in the Class AA semifinals on Friday night at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

Bluefield scored 11 straight points, drawing even with Chapmanville in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers executed down the stretch making the crucial plays needed to outscore the Beavers 14-7 over the final five minutes to advance to its fourth state championship game since 2017.

“That was a war from the very start, we knew it would be. I told the guys we had to play better than we had 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 situation. We did what we had to do (and) at the right time.”

Chapmanvile (22-3) led Bluefield (19-8), who scored the first two points of the game for its only lead of the contest, 43-32, as the third quarter clock wound down. With possession of the ball, Dean launched a 3-pointer that drew iron and was rebounded by Kam’Ron Gore with six seconds remaining.

Gore quickly got the ball to Caleb Fuller, who beat the third quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer that brought the Beavers to within eight points, 43-35, after three quarters of play.

RJ Hairston started the fourth quarter scoring for Bluefield with a layup to trim the deficit to six, 43-37, with 7:49 to play. Hairston added a free throw with 6:35 to play to cut it to five and a Will Looney layup with 6:17 remaining brought the Beavers to within three points, 43-40.

Bluefield turned Chapmanville over on its following offensive possession and got a game-tying 3-pointer from Gore with 5:18 remaining to knot the score at 43.

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

Zion Blevins rebounded a Brody Dalton miss layup and scored on the inside to break a 43-all tie, giving Chapmanville a 45-43 lead with 4:58 to play. Blevins then blocked Hairston’s layup attempt on the other end and rebounded the missed shot with 4:27 to play.

Thirteen seconds later, Dean canned a triple to put Chapmanville up 48-43 with 4:14 to play.

Trailing by five, the Beavers were able to draw within one, 48-47, on Fuller’s layup with 3:37 to play and trailed by two, 50-48 after a Fuller free throw with 2:53 remaining before Dean drilled his second 3 of the quarter to put Chapmanville up five, 53-48, with 2:26 left.

“Those two shots were crucial. One was off a set play and when he (Dean) came off the double at the top, he was wide open,” Napier said. “If he has open shots, he’s going to make them.”

Bluefield never fully recovered from the second Dean 3-pointer, and was 4 of 9 from the foul line in the final quarter and was held without a field goal for nearly two minutes and was just 1 of 7 from behind the arc.

“We lost to a really good team tonight, and I am sure they were gunning for us,” Bluefield coach Buster Large said. “Really proud of the kids, they found a way to get back in it, we clawed back within two with two-and-a-half, three minutes to play and had several chances.”

“Free throws killed us at the end, but what got us was the first half, I think we were like 6 of 22 inside the paint,” Large said. “You’ve got to make shots inside the paint. We blew so many layups and you can’t win basketball games against good teams when you blow layups.”

Despite the missed opportunities, Bluefield outscored Chapmanville, 14-8, in the paint in the first and outscored them 30-24, for the game.

“We played well inside the paint, (but) sometimes you’re off balance, sometimes you’re not using proper fundamentals, sometimes you don’t use the backboard,” Large said. “It just wasn’t there in that half. We made adjustments, came back the second half, but just fell a little short.”

Chapmanville, who lost to Bluefield earlier in the season at West Virginia State University in the Par Mar Stores Shootout, will face fourth seeded Charleston Catholic in Class AA championship game Saturday evening at 5 p.m.

“I just felt like this game was a big one,” Dean said, who finished with seven rebounds and five assists to go along with his game-high 19 points, “For one, it was the one to get to state championship and two we had lost to them early on at West Virginia State, and I have been wanting to get them ever since we lost to them.”

Chapmanville struggled from the field early in the first quarter and knocked down just 3 of 10 shots from the field until Sam Miller connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Tigers a 13-8 lead after one quarter of play.

Miller, who averages 3.1 points per game for the Tigers, finished with nine points and was a perfect 3 of 3 from the 3-point range. Miller’s two first quarter 3’s provided the Tigers with a much needed spark offensively.

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

Bluefield fought back to tie the game at 22 on Gore’s jumper with 2:29 remaining before halftime, but Dalton’s layup with seven seconds remaining gave Chapmanville a 24-22 lead at the end of the first half.

Chapmanville knocked down 9 of its 14 shots in the third quarter and opened up an 11-point lead before settling for an eight-point advantage heading into fourth quarter.

“I thought our execution, our passing, and we kind of got some angles on them. I thought we got some easy baskets too off of offensive rebounds,” Napier said. “Z (Zion) and some of those guys really did a good job to get in there, get some offensive rebounds and putbacks when we had to have them. We had a couple of huge ones.”

Hairston led Bluefield with 15 points while Fuller and Gore each finished with 11 points each. Gore dished out a game-high seven assists and Looney finished with nine points and 10 rebounds for the Beavers.

Blevins finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds while Dalton added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Tigers.

Chapmanville is looking for its third state championship in school history while Charleston Catholic, who is making its first ever appearance in the Class AA championship, will be looking for its fifth in school history and first since 2012.

“Charleston Catholic is very good defensively, very scrappy, (and) they got a couple of kids that can really play. The (Jayallen) Turner kid is a phenomenal athlete, and it’s going to be another war,” Napier said. “They are in the championship game just like us for a reason, they’re pretty good, we think we’re pretty good. I know they are pretty good. I have watched them play multiple games and there’s nobody in the state in any class that plays any harder or plays any better defensively than Catholic.”

Chapmanville 57, Bluefield 50

Chapmanville (22-3)

Dean 7-13 2-2 19, Blevins 6-11 1-5 11, Workman 0-3 0-0 0, Smith, I. 1-4 0-1 2,

Dalton 7-14 0-0 14, Miller 3-3 0-0 9. Totals: 24-48 3-8 57.

Bluefield (19-8)

Gore 5-13 0-0 11, Fields 0-0 1-2 1, Looney 4-8 1-3 9, Fuller 4-17 1-2 11,

Hairston 7-15 1-2 15, Fong 1-1 0-0 3. Totals: 21-54 4-9 50.

Chapmanville 13 11 19 14- 57

Bluefield 8 14 13 15- 50

3-point field goals_Chapmanville 6-14 (Dean 3-5, Workman 0-1, Smith, I. 0-2, Dalton 0-3, Miller 3-3), Bluefield 4-16 (Gore 1-5, Looney 0-1, Fuller 2-8, Hairston 0-1, Fong 1-1). Fouled out_None. Rebounds_Chapmanville 36 (Blevins 11), Bluefield 28 (Looney 10). Assists_Chapmanville 16 (Dean 5), Bluefield 16 (Gore 7). Total fouls_Chapmanville 14, Bluefield 11. Technicals_None.

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