Chapmanville's Haley Fleming (1) drives past Charleston Catholic's Annie Cimino (3) in the Lady Tigers 44-33 victory over the Lady Irish Wednesday night (Photo courtesy of CKG Graphics)
Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports
CHAPMANVILLE Alaira Evans scored a game-high 17 points to lead Chapmanville to a 44-33 victory over Charleston Catholic in a battle of Class AA ranked teams Wednesday night at the Danny Godby Gymnasium.
Evans, Chapmanville’s leading scorer, had eight points in the first half, but after a motivational talking from coach Kristina Gore, Evans scored 11 points in a span of 10:37 in the second half to lead the ninth-ranked Tigers to a victory over the seventh-ranked Irish.
“I told her this isn’t the Holiday Inn, checkout isn’t 11 a.m. and that we are still playing ball at 8 o’clock, that you got to pick it up and just get to where we need to you to be in your head, get your mind right and she did,” Gore said. “She went out there and I told her she needed to be physical and just take over. She did that and it really sparked us, and everybody followed suit.”
Haley Fleming, who missed last Saturday's win over Winfield due to injury, returned to the lineup and scored 10 points for the Lady Tigers.
“Haley is a workhorse, handles the ball well, she did a good job of taking care of the basketball, staying in command, got to the foul line and performed pretty well from the foul line,” Gore said. “I was happy with how aggressive she was getting to the rim.”
Jaiden Mahon just missed double figures finishing with nine points to go along with 12 rebounds, six blocks and four steals.
Mahon entered the contest just two rebounds shy of 500 for her career, reached the milestone with 3:36 to play in the first quarter.
“I wasn’t expecting it until coach (Gore) came to me last night and told me “Hey, you have 498 rebounds,’ and I was like Ok I will get it tomorrow,” Mahon said. “I am just blessed for the opportunity to get them and to do it in my junior year, and I am blessed with the teammates and coaches to push me to where I am now with them.”
Mahon, who is a junior, has seen her point production decrease this season, however, Gore calls Mahon a team player who is willing to sacrifice whatever it takes to help the team win.
“She is the definition of we over me,” Gore said. “We talk all the time about when you sacrifice what is good for you for the good of the team then great things happen for you as an individual on the backside as well.”
“Her point production is nowhere near where it was last year or even the year before,” Gore said. “But, you look at her blocks, her rebounding, hustle plays, assists and they are exactly where they need to be. Perfect example of when you are a total team player, good things happen and I was happy to see her get her 500th rebound with a year to go.”
Chapmanville jumped out to an early 8-2 first quarter lead before Charleston Catholic closed the quarter on an 8-0 run and led 10-8 after one quarter.
The next eight minutes would see a pair of lead changes and a pair of ties as the two teams were deadlocked at 20 at halftime.
Charleston Catholic held a 24-22 with 3:25 to play in the third quarter following Mary Rushworth’s layup, however, the Lady Tigers took the lead on Evans’ 3-pointer with 2:37 remaining in the third quarter.
Molly Messer put the Lady Irish back in front with a three-point play giving them a 27-26 with 43 seconds remaining.
It would be the last field goal for the Lady Irish, who held onto a one-point lead after three quarters, before Evans hit a 3 with 7:12 remaining in the fourth quarter to give the Lady Tigers a two-point lead, 29-27.
It would be a lead they wouldn’t relinquish as Chapmanville went on an 11-3 run to start the fourth quarter and held a 40-30 following Brooke Christian’s free throw with 1:15 remaining.
Messer’s 3 with 1:15 remaining ended a 7:28 field goal drought bringing the Lady Irish to within seven, 40-33.
“We went through a little bit of a dry spell at the start of the fourth. I felt like in the third quarter we came out with good energy, thought we were locked in defensively,” Charleston Catholic coach Wes Hevener said. “I felt like there were a couple of things that happened there about the two-minute mark (third quarter) when the momentum kind of shifted and I don’t know that we handled the moment as well as we needed to.”
“It happens and it is a good learning experience at the moment especially before tournaments,” Hevener said. “To see that we have to play through adversity, to see that we have to play the way that we normally play, and when you are not making shots, it is hard.”
The Lady Irish made just 26% of their shots (13 for 50) from the field and was 4 for 25 in the second half including a 1 for 13 performance in the fourth quarter.
“We were doing a pretty nice job in our matchup zone and once we stopped them from having middle penetration, which we gave them a little too much of that in the first half,” Gore said. “They were able to get some easy buckets off of it, but once we kept them in front of us, stayed with our matchups and stayed discipline we did a pretty good job of making them take tough contested shots.”
“One thing we do differently out of our zone is that we are not coming to double the ball,” Gore said. “We are going to trust our teammates to play one-on-one, make them pick the ball up so they are not getting those easy openings and easy looks.”
Charleston Catholic, a guard dominated team, struggled with the length and size of Chapmanville. The Lady Tigers outrebounded the Lady Irish 31-22 and registered a season high 12 blocks in the win.
“We match up better with guard orientated teams for sure because we are predominantly guard orientated and we have this year struggled a little bit with more physical play,” Hevener said. “Playing the teams that we have played has given us a variety of different things. I thought tonight that Chapmanville, and they got a great team, and they do things a little bit unorthodox in the terms of the four and five out stuff with big, tall girls.”
“You don’t see that a lot in the state, and again I think it is a good learning experience for us,” Hevener said. “Every team attacks things a little bit differently and we are going to use everything as a positive to try and get better.”
Messer led Charleston Catholic with 14 points while Rushworth finished with nine points and nine rebounds for the Lady Irish. Annie Cimino finished with six points but had to set most of the first half after picking up three fouls.
“It has probably been that for the most part this year, but when I look down through the boxscore on any given night we have a different leading scorer,” Hevener said. “It is not never the same one, which is kind of a good thing to have. Tonight, I felt like when Annie (Cimino) picked up that third foul in the first half, I thought that hurt us because she is the general on the court.”
Playing a schedule that featured 14 ranked schools, including eight of the top 10 Class AA ranked schools, Charleston Catholic finished the regular season with a 12-10 record and will now turn its attention to the sectional tournament where they will host Buffalo.
“We have played every top 10 team and a couple of them twice,” Hevener said. “We really and truly believe in playing competition because we learn where our deficiencies are so that we can get better.”
With one game left in the regular season, Chapmanville improved to 14-7 and appears to be peaking at the right time as postseason play begins Monday across the state of West Virginia.
“This one was really big for us, we don’t get to play a lot of double-A teams in our schedule and to have a ranked one come in this late in the season and take care of them,” Gore said. “It got me to thinking a little bit in the future but hopefully that may help us with our seeding as we make a run to the state tournament with the coaches seeding.”
“I refuse to believe anything else but that and, in my mind, we got eight games left,” Gore said. “And eight games left means we are playing on March 11 and that is what this group believes, and we are going to everything in our power to make that happen.”
Chapmanville 44, Charleston Catholic 33
Charleston Catholic (12-10)
Messer 4-16 4-5 14, Rushworth 4-10 1-4 9, Cimino 3-6 0-0 6, Skinner 1-2 0-0 2, Mullen 1-7 0-0 2, Rahin 0-6 0-0 0, Wheeler 0-2 0-0 0, Williams 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 13-50 5-9 33.
Evans 6-11 4-6 19, Fleming 2-3 6-11 10, Mahon 2-9 3-4 7, Christian 2-5 1-2 6, Blair 0-1 2-2 2, Thompson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 12-30 16-25 44.
Charleston Catholic 10 10 7 6- 33
Chapmanville 8 12 6 18- 44