Chatham Charter men rack up assists galore to get past Research Triangle

BY CHAPEL FOWLER, News + Record Staff
Posted 1/14/21

SILER CITY — Full-court outlets. Dump-offs. No-lookers. Underhanded skip passes.

The Chatham Charter men’s basketball team pulled off just about every assist imaginable and then some …

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Chatham Charter men rack up assists galore to get past Research Triangle

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SILER CITY — Full-court outlets. Dump-offs. No-lookers. Underhanded skip passes.

The Chatham Charter men’s basketball team pulled off just about every assist imaginable and then some in Tuesday’s home win, playing an extended game of hot potato and beating Research Triangle, 61-51.

And that contagious unselfishness — 21 assists on 27 made field goals, to be exact — was desperately needed against a veteran Raptors squad that pressed the Knights’ young backcourt most of the night.

“We knew we’d be able to get some easy shots if we took it in to the basket,” Chatham Charter head coach Jason Messier said. “Against a good quality defense like that, we didn't want to just pass the ball around and let them dictate what we do. We wanted to play our game.”

The dimes weren’t just from one player, either. Senior forward Trevor Golden and sophomore guard Darrius Taylor tied for the team lead with five apiece, but every Knights starter had at least two.

“If you have the kid who’s willing to listen and execute what the coach is trying to do, then I think you’ll be successful,” said Golden, who also poured in a team-high 24 points. “Our coach is doing all he can do right now. If we keep doing what he wants us to do, we’ll be successful.”

Chatham Charter (3-0) handed Research Triangle (2-1) two of its three losses in the Central Tar Heel 1A Conference last season, so Tuesday’s game was noticeably intense. The Raptors came out in their signature full-court press; the Knights, in an attempt to throw their opponent off, did the same.

That made for a game that played out at breakneck speed with split-second decisions galore. In other words, not the easiest environment for Chatham Charter’s inexperienced lineup, most of whom hadn’t started a single game until the 2020-21 regular season began last Monday.

But, Messier said, “you wouldn’t be able to tell that was four sophomores and a senior starting the way they played and executed.”

Indeed, forwards Adam Harvey and Aamir Mapp and guards Taylor and Jackson Brown all held their own and settled in rather quickly alongside Golden, the team’s de facto veteran presence.

The Knights led 16-5 after one quarter and extended their lead to 22-9 early in the second. And when Research Triangle forced a few turnovers and made it a game at 23-18, Chatham Charter showed glimpses of the ball movement that would define its night.

First, Golden grabbed a rebound, dribbled coast to coast and made a contorting, in-air pass out to the left corner, where Brown sank a 3-pointer. 26-18. Then Harvey found Mapp for a layup. 28-19.

Finally, Mapp elevated for a jumper, drew a defender and dropped off a pass to Cedric Schwartz, a reserve sophomore forward who made a contested layup right before the halftime buzzer. 30-22.

An eight-point halftime lead never felt so good.

“I think we did really well on the energy,” said Harvey, who had 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists. “We pressed the whole time, we passed the ball really well — just played good team ball.”

The first half was a primer for an even better second. Whether on a fast break or within a half-court set, Chatham Charter pulled its best 2013-14 San Antonio Spurs impression: moving the ball promptly, crisply and always with a purpose. Golden, for one, scored 12 of his 24 points in the third quarter, and just one of his six makes went unassisted.

“It showed how well our team works together,” he said.

Despite the excellent ball movement, Research Triangle stayed within striking range after three quarters — they trailed 49-38 — and made a final push midway through the fourth to trail 55-46.

It took a few final, tense press breaks from Taylor, Brown and Harvey and two free throws from Mapp — who finished with 16 points and six rebounds — for Chatham Charter to release its collective breath on its lowest-scoring win of 2021. One in which every pass — assist or not — mattered plenty.

“We had 20 turnovers but, again, we’re going to have that,” Messier said. “The thing is grit. When they made that run, we didn't give up. We just fought back and kept playing. I couldn't be prouder.”

Reporter Chapel Fowler can be reached at or on Twitter at @chapelfowler.


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