GRAHAM — It’s a rare occurrence when a basketball game starts in one gymnasium and ends in another, but the Chatham Charter boys were more than up to meeting the challenge head-on Tuesday …
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GRAHAM — It’s a rare occurrence when a basketball game starts in one gymnasium and ends in another, but the Chatham Charter boys were more than up to meeting the challenge head-on Tuesday night.
After the Knights opened up a 10-point halftime advantage over River Mill Academy on the Jaguars’ home floor, an excessive moisture buildup on the court made it unsafe to continue play at that location.
So both coaches agreed to transfer play next door to the River Mill Middle School gym, where Chatham Charter proceeded to pour in 54 points following the move en route to crushing the Jaguars 80-42 in a clash of Central Tar Heel 1A Conference rivals.
Posting their sixth consecutive victory over River Mill, the league-leading Knights, ranked eighth in the most recent NCPreps.com media high school 1A basketball poll, climbed to 5-0 in the conference and 16-1 overall, while River Mill slipped to 2-2 against league foes and 11-4 for the year.
Jordan Hamilton pumped in 25 points and Connor Murphy collected a season-high 23 as Chatham Charter shot a blistering 68 percent (34-of-50) from the floor and outrebounded its host 25-14 while turning the ball over 15 times.
Cameron Lutterloh topped the Jaguars with 16 points as River Mill connected on 32 percent (14-of-44) of its field goal attempts while committing 19 turnovers.
“We had great energy on defense tonight and took it to another level, frustrating River Mill the entire evening,” said Knights’ coach Jason Messier. “Jordan and Connor both stepped up and did a great job finishing around the rim, while we kept the tempo where we wanted and played a flawless transition game. We had good ball movement and were able to isolate guys coming off the baseline while playing unselfish as a team, and we got a lot of good minutes from our reserves coming off the bench.”
Jaguars’ coach Eddie Evans stated his team has struggled to put two good halves together all season.
“I can relate this defeat to bad execution and a lack of effort on our part,” Evans said. “We had turnovers at the wrong time, and you can’t give a good team that many open looks and expect to compete with them. Not only were Chatham Charter’s big guys strong on the boards, but they did a good job on offense creating space for themselves in the paint and we didn’t have an answer to stop them.”
After the Knights jumped out to an 8-2 advantage following Cole Milholen’s three-pointer from the right wing with 4:54 to go in the initial period, Lutterloh fired in eight straight points, including a pair of treys, to fuel an 11-2 run that put River Mill up by three with 57.8 seconds left in the opening stanza.
But Chatham Charter responded with a Murphy layup and Clay Griffin’s three-pointer from the left side with 4.6 seconds remaining in the quarter to reclaim the lead for good at 15-13.
Aamir Mapp’s put-back in the lane with 4:37 to go in second frame capped a 10-2 burst by the Knights that boosted their advantage to 25-15, and after the winners extended their lead to 32-21 on Hamilton’s conventional three-point play with 1:07 remaining until intermission, a pair of Lutterloh free throws cut the gap to 34-26 before Murphy’s layup with 2.3 seconds on the clock gave Chatham Charter a 10-point cushion at the break.
Any hopes the Jaguars had of mounting a comeback were dashed at the start of the third period as the Knights outscored River Mill 17-4 over the first five minutes of the stanza to forge ahead 53-30 and maintained a 23-point advantage (59-36) heading into the last eight minutes.
Chatham Charter continued to put the pedal to the metal over the course of the fourth quarter, limiting the Jaguars to six points in the frame while steadily pulling away down the stretch, with a pair of Griffin foul shots with 32.4 seconds remaining accounting for the final spread and giving the Knights their biggest lead of the evening.