PHOTO | Boothe Davis : Captured by the Moment Photography
BILL LUSK | WVOW Sports
CHAPMANVILLE, WVa One streak continued while another came to an end Thursday night.
Class AA No. 3 Bluefield outscored No. 7 Chapmanville 16-6 in the third quarter as the Beavers defeated the Tigers 51-42 in the Class AA Region 3 co-finals at Danny Godby Gymnasium.
With the win, Bluefield earns it 11th consecutive regional championship to next week’s West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission state tournament.
“I think it is the most consecutive years other than Northfork in the 70’s,” Bluefield coach Buster Large said. “I am real proud of these kids, proud of Mercer County schools, proud of Bluefield High School, and we are representing Bluefield well.”
Caleb Fuller led three Beavers in double figures with 18 points. RJ Hairston had 12 and Chance Johnson 10.
“We really pushed these kids all week long because we knew we were coming into a tough environment,” Large said. “I respect Coach Napier and their program, them and I are double-A powerhouses and we really wanted to get back to Charleston.”
Leading by five at halftime, Bluefield used a 16-6 third quarter run to extend its lead to 15 points, 36-21, and led by as many as 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Chapmanville would attempt to mount a rally, but the Tigers could get no closer than the final margin as they saw their state tournament hopes come to an end.
Chapmanville was looking to qualify for its sixth consecutive trip to Charleston, but 22 turnovers and a poor shooting night would be too much to overcome.
“Too many turnovers, we had trouble scoring and when we actually broke the press, we didn’t make shots,” Chapmanville coach Brad Napier said. “They were playing a 1-3-1 zone and collapsing it. The kick outs were there for shots, but we shot a lot of 3’s and didn’t make very many of them.”
“When the other team is forcing you to shoot outside shots, and you are not making them it makes it tough to score,” Napier said. “A lot of the turnovers came when we were trying to drive into groups of people.”
Zion Blevins did his part to keep Chapmanville in the contest early with seven first half points on his way to a team-high 16 points.
“Zion was really good in the first half, and he carried us,” Napier said. “If I am not mistaken, he scored our first six or eight points.”
After RJ Hairston got Bluefield on the board first, Blevins scored five straight points to give Chapmanville a 5-2 lead in the first quarter before the Beavers closed with four straight points to lead 6-5 after one quarter of play.
Blevins gave Chapmanville a 7-6 lead with his seventh straight point before Fuller put Bluefield back on top with a pair of free throws.
Devin Workman hit the first of his two second quarter 3’s to give the Tigers a 10-8 lead, but Fuller answered with a 3 of his own to give Bluefield an 11-10 lead.
Workman’s second 3 gave the Tigers a 13-11 lead, but it would be the last lead of the night as the Beavers went on a 9-0 run to take a 20-13 lead before Brody Dalton’s basket cut the deficit to 20-15 at the end of the first half.
Chapmanville couldn’t get anything going in the third quarter and the early stages of the fourth quarter as the shooting woes began to mount. A number of shots would roll around the rim and fall off ruining any hopes of a Tiger comeback.
“We had two or three shots, open looks, that went all the way down in the rim and came back out,” Napier said. “Sometimes it’s just not meant to be, and the basketball bounces funny ways, tonight we probably had five, six, seven shots go all the way down the rim and roll around and pop out.”
Bluefield improves to 19-5 and will be the third seed in the Class AA state tournament. The Beavers will play sixth seed Wyoming East Wednesday morning at 11:15 a.m.
It will be the fourth meeting of the season between the Beavers and Warriors. Bluefield defeated Wyoming East, 52-39, on Jan. 26 at Bluefield while Wyoming East won 62-59 in overtime on Feb. 4 at The Greenbrier Resort and defeated the Beavers 58-44 in the Class AA Region 3 Section 1 championship at Bluefield on March 1.
“We are in a great spot, and I am excited for next week,” Large said. “We want to be playing next Saturday at 12 o’clock and I think we can.”
Workman finished with 11 points and Sam Leslie had 10 points off the bench for the Tigers. Leslie scored all of his points in the fourth quarter knocking down three 3’s and a free throw.
“Sam got hot in the fourth quarter and made some shots,” Napier said.
Chapmanville ends the season with a record of 13-11. Thursday’s game was the final game for seniors Isaac Butcher, Colton Craddock and Leslie.
“Those guys have been a part of this program for four years,” Napier said. “They made a lot of memories, they have been a part of a state championship team, played in the state tournament last year, and they don’t have nothing to hang their heads about.”
“They have had great careers, they have been able to experience a lot of things, do a lot of things, and we are going to miss them,” Napier said. “They are great kids, great teammates and that is the bad part of it is that we lose those three guys.”
At Danny Godby Gymnasium
Class AA Region 3 Co-finals
Bluefield 51, Chapmanville 42
Ja’eon Flack 1 2-2 4, Caleb Fuller 5 7-10 18, Chance Johnson 5 2-2 10, RJ Hairston 6 0-0 12,
Jamel Floyd 1 0-0 3, Kamaire Gore 1 0-0 2.
Totals: 19 11-14 51.
Zion Blevins 7 1-2 16, Devin Workman 4 1-2 11, Isaiah Smith 1 0-0 2, Brody Dalton 1 1-2 3,Sam Leslie 3 1-3 10. Totals: 16 4-9 42.
Bluefield 6 14 16 15- 51
Chapmanville 5 10 6 21- 42
3-point field goals- Bluefield 2 (Fuller, Floyd), Chapmanville 6 (Leslie 3, Workman 2, Blevins).