Hilltoppers escape Chase with a win
R-S Central’s Jordan Hamilton scored 15 of his team-high 19 points in the second half, including two foul shots with six seconds left to stave off a furious fourth quarter rally by Chase as the Hilltoppers held on for the 65-60 win.
“I think we started out 1-8 from the foul line but we hit them when we needed to,” said Central coach Greg Wright. “I want to give Chase all the credit in the world. They fought extremely hard and we are fortunate to come away with the win.”
Chase coach Joe Jessen was equally as complementary of the Hilltoppers.
“This was a great high school basketball game,” he said. “Both teams played well but you have to give Central credit. They made the plays down the stretch. They deserve the win.”
The game started sloppily for both teams as the squads only combined for nine points through the first three minutes of game. Two field goals from Rashaun Whitesides and a three-point play by Jaylen Hollis allowed Central (11-6, 4-4 SMAC) to grab a 12-5 lead.
Tray Watkins stopped the bleeding with an offensive rebound and put back. Central went back up by nine points on a 3-point basket by Desmond Whitesides. Not to be outdone, Shad Blanton got a shooters role on a 3 of his own at the quarter buzzer to pull Chase to within 18-12.
That play seemed to spark Chase (10-8, 3-5 SMAC) as they exploded on a 12-2 run with eight of those points coming from Blanton. By the time Stephen Holland garnered a stick back, Chase led 24-20.
Central came back behind Reshaun Whitesides. The undersized post player seemed to get to every loose ball. When he converted his third consecutive field goal off an offensive rebound, R-S led 30-28.
Watkins tied the game with a pair of foul shots; Central’s Tracy Ross hit a 3 at the halftime buzzer to put Central up 33-30 at the break.
Central began to pull away from the Trojans at the foul line in the third quarter. At one point Jordan Hamilton connected on five of six foul shots in the quarter.
On the defensive end of the floor, the Hilltopper’s became stingy as they held Chase to only eight points in the frame.
After Jay Blanton got his hands in the passing lane and converted a layup, R-S had an 11-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
Chase would not go away quietly in that final quarter.
Behind Kyle Bingham, Chase opened the quarter on a 7-2 run capped by the lanky senior’s put back.
The run continued as Central coach Greg Wright was whistled for a technical foul. Blanton connected on both foul shots and Ryan Simpson hit a runner to cut the Trojan deficit to 48-47 with 3:16 remaining.
Jessen was hit with a technical foul of his own and Central took advantage. Hamilton hit both foul shots and a layup to put Central up by five points.
From then the game went back and forth from that point. Chase pulled to within 58-55 with under a minute to play and had the ball but Tyrell Boykins 3-point attempt was off the mark as Hamilton grabbed the rebound. He then calmly sank both foul shots to account for 60-55 final.
Chase was led by Shad Blanton’s game-high 25 points.