Chapmanville was all smiles Friday night after a 46-34 victory over Mingo Central in the Class AA Region 3 Section 2 championship at Mingo Central High School. The Lady Tigers will host No. 1 Wyoming East Tuesday night in one of two Region 3 championship games (Photo courtesy of CKG Graphics).
Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports
NEW TOWN Nearly one year after a tough loss on its home court in sectional finals, Chapmanville wasn’t looking for revenge but redemption for what happened 363 days ago in the Class AA Region 3 Section 2 championship at Danny Godby Gymnasium.
That night Mingo Central’s Madisyn Curry knocked down an elbow jumper with 16 seconds remaining to give the Lady Miners a 47-45 win over Chapmanville.
On Friday night, Chapmanville and Mingo Central met for a third time this season, back on Dec. 13, the Lady Miners won 55-49 at Chapmanville and defeated the Lady Tigers 50-29 on Jan. 17 on Miner Mountain.
The Lady Tigers were on Miner Mountain with not only a chance at redemption but an opportunity to host a regional championship game, and this time they refused to let the opportunity slip away.
Led by double digit scoring performances from Alaira Evans and Jaiden Mahon, eighth-ranked Chapmanville beat second-ranked Mingo Central 46-34 to win its first sectional championship in four years.
“We lost this same game last year to them in a heartbreaking way. We didn’t give them anything close to our best shot in the regular season this year either time we played them, (but) tonight we came to play,” Chapmanville coach Kristina Gore said. “Revenge isn’t what we wanted. We know what it feels like losing, being on the losing end of things, and it hurts.”
“For us this wasn’t about revenge. I told the girls before the game this was about redemption,” Gore said. “We don’t like to hurt anyone, but it does feel good ourselves by showing the state that we are a team in AA to be reckoned with.”
Chapmanville will host one of two Class AA Region 3 championships Tuesday night at the Danny Godby Gymnasium against AA No. 1 Wyoming East. Summers County will host Mingo Central in the other Region 3 championship.
The Lady Warriors, who were defeated on their home floor by third-ranked Summers County, 50-47, last Wednesday, have defeated the Lady Tigers in the previous two Region 3 championships.
For Gore, the sectional championship meant that the Lady Tigers wouldn’t have to travel to Wyoming East, which Gore calls one of the toughest venues in the state.
“I’ve never been so happy to not have to go to Wyoming East in my life. That is an extremely difficult place to play, maybe the toughest in the state,” Gore said. “It made it a little difficult to enjoy the night realizing that we’ve only got two days of practice to prepare for them. But then I realized with the help of a good friend and fellow coach, hey, they’ve only got two days to prepare for us.”
Evans led Chapmanville with a game-high 19 points to go along with seven rebounds while Mahon finished with 18 points, six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals.
In a pivotal third quarter, Mahon knocked down two threes and Evans one, as Chapmanville ended the quarter on a 9-0 run breaking a 24-24 tie to take a 33-24 lead into the final period.
“Alaira and Jaiden came up huge in the third quarter sparking us on a run there. We came down on three straight trips and hit three bombs to close the quarter,” Gore said. “Jaiden hits one from the left corner, then Alaira hits from the right side, and then Haley drove middle and drew the defense off Jaiden for her to hit another three. (That was a) big momentum swing going into the fourth.”
Chapmanville scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to extend the run to 13-0 on Chole Thompson’s basket to take a 37-24 lead, however, Mingo Central wouldn’t back down and answered with a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to seven, 37-30, with 3:40 to play.
Sensing a change in momentum, Gore called timeout and straight out of the timeout Mahon answered with a basket that jumpstarted a 6-0 Lady Tigers run.
Mahon, who missed the front end of an one-and-one in the closing seconds of last year’s sectional championship defeat, her basket gave the Lady Tigers the breathing room it would need to finish the deal.
“They went on a small run to cut it to seven, so we called timeout, had the girls take a few deep breaths to settle down,” Gore said. “Jaiden recognized she had a mismatch and wanted the ball. First time ever that kid has asked for the ball in the post, Chloe threw her a dandy lob pass and Jaiden laid it in like she’s done her whole life.”
A slow start to the first quarter put Chapmanville behind 8-7 after one, however, the Lady Tigers were able to get going in the second quarter to outscore Mingo Central 12-8 and take a 19-16 after one half of action.
“Early in the game there were some jitters offensively, but I knew the way we were clamping down on Addie (Smith) that it wouldn’t take much more than 40 to beat them,” Gore said. “Alaira really helped settle us into the game in the second (quarter). She had a big quarter and Haley (Fleming) found her for a 3 in the transition and she had a couple of very nice drives to the basket.”
Haley Fleming, who finished with seven points and five assists in the win, played a vital role on defense for the Lady Tigers. Fleming was responsible for guarding Mingo Central leading scorer Addie Smith.
Smith, a sophomore had 24 and 12 points in the Lady Miners two wins over Chapmanville this season, was averaging over 20 points a game entering the sectional championship but was held to a season low seven points Friday night.
“Haley was tremendous tonight on Addie and everyone else played a role in that, as well,” Gore said. “We knew with it being tournament time, the ball would be in her hands even more than usual. We played them a little differently that most people.”
“Everyone on the floor is responsible for defending her off screens, guard or big. Haley did a great job on her as the primary defender, but everyone else on the floor got in on the action multiple time tonight,” Gore said. “I’m going to assume that seven points is her season low, and those came in the fourth quarter. We started leaning into screens instead of waiting on her to reject them and she got into the paint a few times on us. She is a great player, and it took a great team effort on defense to shut her down.”
Thompson had two points, four rebounds, three blocks and four assists in the win for Chapmanville.
“Chloe and I have an inside joke about how we need her to play (and) she delivered again big time for us,” Gore said. “She and (Alyssa) Davis grabbed a rebound at the same time and Chloe ripped it straight out of there with some force.”
“She sets screens to free up Jaiden and Alaira in the third without being asked and those were big time high IQ basketball plays,” Gore said. “Everyone reads about the kids hitting the big 3’s, and rightly so, but I want to make sure they read about the kids setting the scenes and getting them the rock, too.”
Gore, who said the victory was made special because it was a total team effort, had high praises for a pair of individuals that failed to score but did so much more to aid in the win.
Brooke Christian had two rebounds, one assist and one steal while Jaycee Blair came up with a rebound, a steal and a pair of key third quarter assists.
“I can’t say enough about Chloe, Brooke and Jaycee. They did a super job understand and executing the defensive game plan,” Gore said. “Jaycee had two big assists for us in the third and Brooke played the best on ball defense I’ve seen her play all year.”
“An area of focus for us was to really pressure the ball after Addie gave it up to make the passes back to her more difficult,” Gore said. “We wanted to disrupt their offensive timing as much as we could because they have great rhythm and we were successful in doing that.”
Curry led Mingo Central with 12 points while Dalaney Grimmett finished with eight and Smith seven for the Lady Miners.
Mingo Central suffered its third loss of the season to fall to 19-3 on the year while Chapmanville, who has won six of its last eight games, improved to 16-8 on the season.
“So proud of this group, we’ve overcome so much adversity this season and have gone 6-2 over our last eight games,” Gore said. “Things have been moving in the right direction and it’s because of the togetherness we’ve got going on a unit right now. The kids on the floor believe in each other the way I believe in them and that’s a powerful thing.”
Both Chapmanville and Mingo Central will look to advance to next week’s state tournament with a win Tuesday night in the regional finals.
Mingo Central last took part in the state tournament during the shortened 2021 COVID season, but for Chapmanville the wait has been longer. The last time the Lady Tigers took part in the state tournament was during the 2010-11 season.
Chapmanville has another shot at redemption Tuesday night against a Wyoming East team that has eliminated in the Region 3 finals in the previous two seasons.
Regardless of the outcome Tuesday night, two of the state’s top eight teams in Class AA will be eliminated while two will move on to the state tournament. The only question that remains is which two teams of the four, No. 1 Wyoming East, No. 2 Mingo Central, No. 3 Summers County or No. 8 Chapmanville, will have the opportunity to play for a state championship.
“Coaches from our region have said it all year. We’ve got the toughest road to the state tournament by far, but if you can get there, you’ve left two teams at home that could have just as well been playing on the last day,” Gore said. “That’s the reality of our format and you won’t see the best eight teams in AA at the state tournament.”
“Two of them from our region will be eliminated Tuesday night,” Gore said. “We’re going to fight like heck to make sure that’s not us.”
Chapmanville 46, Mingo Central 34
Evans 19, Mahon 18, Felming 7, Thompson 2.
Tug Valley (8-9)
Curry 12, Grimmett 8, Smith 7, Hall 4, Davis 3.
Chapmanville 7 12 14 13- 46
Mingo Central 8 8 8 10- 34