You just had to figure it was going to go right down to the wire.
It’s Chapmanvile and Scott playing for a sectional championship.
What else would you expect?
Simply put, it was another classic.
March Madness was on full display on Friday night at Logan High School’s Willie Akers Arena as the Tigers overcame an 11-point halftime deficit to defeat the arch-rival Skyhawks 38-36 in the Class AA Region 4 Section 2 championship game.
Chapmanville (16-8), winners of nine out of its last 10 games, won in dramatic fashion and moved to within one win of the state tournament. The Tigers are scheduled to host Sissonville this coming Thursday night in the Class AA regional co-finals for the right to play in Charleston for the second time in three years.
Scott (11-13), the number one seed, which had defeated Chapmanville twice during the regular season, gets the dreaded regional trip this week at No. 1-ranked Poca. The Dots (22-2), the defending state champions, beat Sissonville (15-9) 66-39 on Friday night in the Class AA Region 4 Section 1 title game.
It looked like Scott might be the team getting to play on its home floor for a state tournament bid.
With the game tied at 36 and after Chapmanville holding the ball and milking four minutes off the fourth quarter clock, Scott had possession with 30 seconds left.
The Skyhawks called timeout with 7.4 ticks to go to set up the final play.
Scott’s Tanner Bell got the ball and drove down the lane for a shot, which went off the window and off the iron no good. Chapmanville’s Kyle Browning grabbed the rebound and, unbelievably, was fouled with 0.1 seconds left on the clock.
Browning then stepped to the line for a one-and-one and sank both free throws to give the Tigers the dramatic 38-36 win.
Scott inbounded the ball and a 40-foot shot at the buzzer rimmed out. It came after the horn had sounded and would not have counted anyway.
Chapmanville players stormed the court and the celebration was on.
For the young Tigers, it was a huge win.
Not only did Chapmanville wrap up the sectional championship, they also avoided the Poca Dots.
The Tigers didn’t expect to go this far.
Chapmanville and Sissonville have split with each other in two meetings this season and this week’s regional co-final could be another toss-up.
First things first, though.
It was a heck of a finish by the Tigers.
For Chapmanville first-year coach Brad Napier, it was a little bit too much drama.
“I think that I lost 10 years of my life there,” a smiling Napier quipped.
Browning, a sophomore guard, led Chapmanville in the game with 16 points.
Scott, playing a very tight box-and-one defense on leading scorer Drew Williamson, held the 6-foot-3 sophomore guard to just eight points. Williamson, the Cardinal Conference’s second-leading scorer, had been averaging about 20 points a game.
The finish was a stunner.
Scott fans were upset a foul that far away from the basket in that situation was called at all.
Social media flared up in just minutes.
“I couldn’t even hear the whistle it was so loud to be honest with you,” Napier said when asked about the foul that sent Browning to the line. “I didn’t know what they were going to call or anything. We were sort of lucky that Bell missed that shot because he’s such a great player. Kyle came up big with the rebound. We stressed during the timeout that we had to get a rebound and he went up there in a crowd and got a big one.”
Browning said the winning sequence of events were a blur.
“I just went up and got it. That’s all that you’ve got to do,” Browning said after the game. “I went to the free throw line and made them. I was just trying to catch my breath.”
Chapmanville and Scott had played two down-to-the-wire games already this season with the Skyhawks winning 75-72 in overtime at CRHS and then taking a 66-62 decision at Madison.
The old saying says that it’s hard to beat the same time three times in a season.
That held true.
But just about everyone expected a barn-burner.
They got it.
“We knew that it was going to be a battle and we didn’t expect anything else,” Napier said. “Scott is coached very well and they battled to the very end. We knew that it was going to be tight and go right down to the wire.”
Chapmanville set up the winning free throws in the final moments of the fourth quarter as the Tigers held the ball for about four minutes.
“We were just trying to get them out of the box-and-one,” Napier said about the stall. “We had trouble the whole game shooting the ball. We were just trying to get them to come out and it worked in our favor.”
Chapmanville looked to go ahead but senior Jordan Whitt’s shot was blocked by Scott’s Patrick Underwood with 1:15 left.
Scott was then turned the ball with a five-second call underneath its hoop with 54.7 ticks to go.
Chapmanville got it back but Whitt was called for traveling with 30.2 seconds left.
That set up Bell’s drive down the lane and Browning’s game-winning charity tosses.
The Tigers trailed 32-30 after three.
Scott went up 34-30 with 7:17 to go as Patrick Day hit a pair of free throws.
Chapmanville later tied it at 34 with a Williamson layup and knotted it up at 36 with a Browning bucket.
Scott, which led 30-19 at the break, managed just six points in the second half.
You don’t see many six-point halves these days.
“It’s been a while,” Napier said.
Whitt added six points for CRHS. Hunter Neil had five and Devin Collins three. Whitt played on Chapmanville’s historic 2014 state tournament team — the first boys’ varsity basketball team from Chapmanville to ever make it to the state tournament.
Bell, playing his usual power game inside, using an array of spin moves and pivots along the baseline, led Scott with 18 points. Underwood had seven, Andrew Day five and Alan Johnson and Nick Dolan had three each.
Just like the 2014 Coach Allan Hatcher-led squad, the Tigers will have an opportunity to advance to the state tournament with a victory on their home floor.
Two years ago, the Tigers did it by dispatching Nicholas County.
This time, it’s Sissonville.
And more importantly, the Tigers don’t have to play the Dots.
“That’s the big thing. These kids wanted to play one more home game,” Coach Napier said. “We were able to get one more for Jordan Whitt our only senior. That was big for him.”
Chapmanville went on top 12-6 in the first quarter as Williamson sank a 3-pointer and Browning scored on a putback.
The Skyhawks then went on a 7-0 run to go up 13-12.
Scott held a 15-12 advantage after one quarter and continued to grow its lead in the second period, outscoring the Tigers 15-7.
Chapmanville then turned up the intensity in the third quarter, outpointing Scott 11-2 to pull to within two. The Skyhawks scored no field goals during the stanza, only sinking a pair of free throws.
“We just had to bear down and take it to the hole more and stop settling for outside jump shots,” Browning said.
Browning hit a key 3 in the third, inching the Tigers to within 31-26 with 3:49 left in the period.
Williamson’s layup then closed the gap to 31-28 and a tap-in by Neil trimmed it to 32-30 with 2:01 to go.
Chapmanville looked like it might have tied it at 32 with a Browning layup but he was whistled for charging with 29.9 ticks to go and the bucket was wiped out.
The Tigers now shift focus to the regional game with Sissonville.
The Indians beat Chapmanville in the most recent clash, taking a 63-52 win over Chapmanville on Feb. 16 at Sissonville. The Tigers beat the Indians 65-55 on Jan. 19 at home.
It looks like a 50-50 game with Chapmanville maybe slightly favored since it will be playing at home.
Chapmanville’s odds of reaching the state tournament increased greatly in that the Tigers do not have to play Poca.
“That’s true but we were more concerned about winning the next game and it doesn’t matter who we play,” Napier said. “It’s going to be a battle and Sissonville is another well coached team. They can present a lot of problems for you because they can shoot the ball so well.”
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).