Chatham Central’s boys basketball team ended its four-game non-conference slate with a 72-40 win over Western Harnett Friday night.
The Bears controlled the game from start to finish with the help of a shutdown first-half defensive performance and junior Reid Albright’s fourth straight game with at least 20 points.
Chatham Central only gave up eight points in the first half, including just one point in the second quarter.
The Bears implemented a mix of zone, man and a full court press which created early turnovers and made it difficult for the Eagles’ offense to get into a rhythm.
“When you get against teams in other conferences, they’re going to run different offensive sets,” Chatham Central head coach Robert Burke said. “You’ve got to match it with a different defensive set. You can’t come out and run a 2-3 or a 2-1-2 the entire game.”
Burke said it’s the confidence in his team’s agility that allows them to be a more versatile team on defense. It starts with guards Devonte Johnson, Luke Gaines and Albright being quick enough to move around with opponents and disrupt passing lanes like they did for a team-total of 14 steals Friday.
“This is about one of the only teams in the last five years that I feel comfortable playing man (with),” Burke said.
Those turnovers helped Chatham Central create some quick offense in transition, especially for Albright who saw plenty of scoring opportunities at the rim.
Whether he was looking to score, pass or leak out to the perimeter for a three, Albright consistently found ways to contribute to the Bears’ lead. He finished the night with 22 points after scoring 30, 29 and 22 points in each of the previous three games.
Albright also grabbed five rebounds and dished out four assists.
“It’s just his style of play,” Burke said. “He knows the game. He knows how to read where to penetrate and how to put it on the board. He’s just a very smart ballplayer to go with his talent.”
Albright said the key to his offensive success is, “attacking the basket, getting to (his) spots, finishing layups and knocking down open shots.”
Of course, with a total of 69 points on the board, Albright wasn’t the only Bear following that formula.
Sophomore Jeremiah Young and junior Luke Gaines both had 10 points a-piece. The team also made a total of nine threes, shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc.
Off to its best four-game start since the 2020-21 season, Chatham Central has a tough and competitive conference schedule lying ahead.
After playing its first conference game against Southeast Alamance Tuesday, the Bears will have an early test of how good they can be when they host a much improved Jordan-Matthews team Friday.
“I’m tickled about this year,” Burke said. “(We’re) ready to roll.”