Hilltoppers down Trojans in county clash
It was the tale of two halves and two styles Friday night when Chase visited R-S Central.
The Trojans (6-2, 1-1 SMAC) had a size advantage in the post but the Hilltoppers (6-4, 1-1 SMAC) had a quickness that eventually led them to a 71-54 win after trailing at halftime.
"I chewed them pretty good at halftime," said Central head coach Greg Wright. "When we finally settled in and ran our offense we got it going. This is a good win for us."
"They got a little lead on us in the third and we had to put pressure on them," Chase head coach Joe Jessen said after the game. "They had a little quickness on us and they took advantage of it."
Central’s Jordan Hamilton opened the scoring with a 3-pointer but Chase’s Shad Blanton drained the next important deep ball that put Chase ahead 10-7 for their first lead of the game midway through the first quarter.
The Hilltoppers looked poised to end the quarter with a slim 13-12 lead but a big three-point play by the Trojans' Caleb Lancaster gave Chase a 15-13 lead after one quarter.
Chase continued to use their size advantage in the post on when Blanton connected with Steven Holland on a no-look pass under the basket for two points and a foul. Holland missed the free throw but Chase had the 23-21 lead.
It wasn’t long before the lead changed again on a Tracy Ross 3-pointer that gave Central a 27-25 lead with 2:30 left in the first half.
Lancaster poured in four more for Chase off the bench and the half ended with the Trojans leading 33-31.
"We had them right where we wanted them," Jessen said. "We played with discipline and used our size advantage well. We stuck to the game plan."
"Chase did a good job of keeping the game a half-court game," said Wright. "They did a great job of using their size and valuing every possession while we were just stagnant offensively."
Holland led the Trojan attack with 10 points at the half while Lancaster had nine.
Jaylen Hollis had a strong start with 11 first half points and Rashaun Whitesides added seven.
Central came out of the half sloppy and turned the ball over on their first two possessions.
Despite the turnovers, the Hilltoppers stayed in the game and took the lead, 39-38, halfway through the third quarter on a Desmond Whitesides runner in the lane.
The second half of the third quarter saw a bloody jersey for Central and a knee injury that sent Chase’s Tyrell Boykins to the floor in pain.
Central continued the charge and finished the third quarter with a 10-point lead, 51-41.
More drama ensued early in the fourth quarter on a disputed fifth foul on Chase’s Tray Watkins that turned out to be only his fourth. Some argued that the foul shouldn’t have been called saying that Wright had called a timout prior to the whistle and bucket by Rashaun Whitsides.
In the end the basket counted as well as the free throw that put Central up 57-45 with six minutes remaining.
Central’s Jay Blanton stretched the lead to 15 with a floater in the lane that made the score 66-41.
Rashaun Whitesides converted another three-point play on the next possession to put the game out of reach with just 1:20 remaining and the Trojans trailing by 18.
Central drained the rest of the clock to claim the 71-54 win.
Hollis led the Trojans with 19 points and nine rebounds while Lancaster added 12 off the bench
"[Lancaster] off the bench adds a lot of energy," Jessen said. "He isn't real tall but he has a big body and knows how to use it."
Rashaun Whitesides recorded another double-double with 19 points and 11 boards while Hollis stuffed the stat sheet with 15 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
"When we get the ball in the high post to [Hollis], good things happen," Wright said of his big man. "He was really aggressive tonight on both ends."
Despite the loss, Jessen says a game like this instills more confidence in a team that is already having a strong season.
"We have to get over that hump and win those games over teams we aren't supposed to beat," said Jessen. "We were in this one. We can beat teams like this."
Central returns to action Dec. 27 in the Freedom Invitaional Tournament while Chase begins play the same day at the Bud Black/Dennis Tate Holiday Classic in Cherryville.