Chatham Central sweeps varsity slate in first showdowns with Jordan-Matthews

Stories from Friday’s varsity boys and girls games



In front of a rowdy, packed out gym, fierce rivals Jordan-Matthews and Chatham Central competed neck and neck until the Bears made the necessary adjustments to pull away for a 58-47 win Friday.

Throughout the first half, it was the Reid Albright and Brennan Oldham show. Oldham, the junior big man for Jordan-Matthews, got going in the paint, especially in half-court sets where he could operate with the ball in the middle.

Oldham led the team with 15 points at halftime, including back-to-back dunks in the second quarter that gave the Jets a spark of energy on the floor.

Despite Oldham’s efforts, and the Jets sending multiple defenders at Chatham Central junior Reid Albright, the Bears still led at the break, 32-27. Albright, one-upped Oldham with 16 points in the first half, hitting open looks from mid-range and the three.

“Reid is Reid,” Chatham Central head coach Robert Burke said. “He can just do everything and make things happen. They came out and played him real hard, put two people on him.”

Coming out of the half, two things changed for Chatham Central. One, other players began to step up in the scoring column, and two, a slight defensive change took away the Jets’ valuable middle pass.

“I said we’re throwing two people at the ball handler, and I only want one person to go to the ball handler,” Burke said. “The other person is floating back…because we want to get that third pass. In the first half, we were giving up half-court to the middle pass, and it busts (the press).”

That change created turnovers and more transition opportunities for the Bears, prompting a third quarter run that put them up 10 before the fourth.

On the offensive end, junior Luke Gaines began to heat up with eight second half points as well as sophomore Jeremiah Young who poured in all seven of his points in the final two quarters.

Junior forward Aidan Johnson provided crucial non-scoring impact, grabbing nine rebounds in a physical performance that Burke feels was Johnson’s best so far this season. Four of those rebounds were offensive boards that provided extra scoring opportunities.

“We just have that chemistry,” Johnson said. “Once one person does good, we all feed off each other. (It’s a) team effort.”‌


Behind a dominant physical and defensive performance, Chatham Central pounded its rival Jordan-Matthews, 55-26.

As the smaller team, the Bears emphasized aggressiveness in the paint and on the ball, creating more scoring opportunities through turnovers and rebounds.

Even though the Jets were down a key scorer in Yamilet Lozano and Brooklin Quee, who were suspended from an altercation during a Dec. 5 game against Cummings, the Bears held Jordan-Matthews to just single digits in each quarter.

“Our focus is defense,” Chatham Central head coach Aedrin Albright said. “They did a great job inside.”

Junior forward Karaleigh Dodson anchored the Bears’ interior efforts, coming away with 14 rebounds, four steals and two blocks on the night. Dodson said a significant part of their defensive success is communication.

“Talking with each other and saying, ‘hey, I got this girl,’ or ‘switch, you got this girl,’ really helps,” Dodson said. “Down low we do very well with talking to each other and same with the guards.”

Chatham Central made it difficult for Jordan-Matthews to produce offense on just about every level on the court, implementing full-court presses and face guarding ball handlers when they crossed the half-court line.

Albright said a big part of the defensive strategy was intercepting the middle pass which was where Dodson, and many others, found opportunities for steals. The team recorded 23 total steals, and junior Mattie Underwood grabbed a team-high of eight.

But with the scoring opportunities they created from forced turnovers, the Bears also generated offense in half-court sets with scoring opportunities created from the boards.

Chatham Central grabbed 24 offensive rebounds, two more than its defensive rebound total. Out of Dodson’s 14 rebounds, 10 were offensive.

“We did great rebounding against taller girls,” Albright said.

For Dodson, those rebounds added up in the scoring column as she finished the night with a team-high 20 points.

Other Bears got involved offensively with senior Katherine Gaines pouring in 13 points and senior Kelsey Hussey scoring eight.