SILER CITY — Jamarr Ross admitted the first half of Tuesday’s game wasn’t “the prettiest thing ever.” But that was the plan he’d created for his Chatham Charter …
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SILER CITY — Jamarr Ross admitted the first half of Tuesday’s game wasn’t “the prettiest thing ever.” But that was the plan he’d created for his Chatham Charter women, so the first-year head coach stuck to it.
His gamble paid off.
After leading Research Triangle 24-17 at halftime, the Knights exploded for 44 points in the second half and cruised to a 68-38 win over the Raptors. The difference? After two quarters of post-ups, short-range shots and box-outs to wear down its opponent, Chatham Charter let its talented group of guards loose.
“Today, it was bang down low and bang down low until the outside opened up,” Ross said. “And then they took care of business. They took care of business.”
The end result for the Knights, who moved to 2-0 ahead of a nonconference game Thursday at Wakefield, was a balanced box score: five players with eight or more points, three in double digits.
But that didn’t tell the full story of Tuesday’s win, which went from slugfest to shootout rather quickly.
Just ask senior forward Morgan Lineberry, who had a 15-point, 15-rebound double, and sophomore guard Tamaya Walden, who had 14 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals.
“We rebounded a lot better and changed our game completely,” Lineberry said.
“We played more like a family in the second half,” Walden added.
Not like the first half was a disaster. Chatham Charter had a clear size advantage over Research Triangle, and the team ran a number of successful post-ups and designated plays for its starting forwards: Lineberry, senior Rebecca McGaughnea (eight points, eight rebounds) and junior Alexis Baldwin (12 points).
Pounding the paint was successful — Chatham Charter led 14-10 after one quarter and went on an 8-0 run in the second — but Research Triangle hung around thanks to some timely 3-pointers.
Ross didn’t mind. Confident in the Knights’ ability to flip the switch when needed, he challenged them to play tough in the first half: fighting for position, wrestling for rebounds, hustling for loose balls.
“Over time, I know who my team is,” Ross said, “and I knew that pressure down low would start opening things up in the second half.”
Indeed, once the third quarter started and Chatham Charter switched up its offensive approach, the floor did look a lot wider. With guards such as Walden, freshman Delana Loflin (nine points, three assists) and sophomore Lily Jones setting up around the arc, the Knights’ offense started clicking.
Walden and Loflin, for example, ended the game with a combined 15 3-point attempts (they made five). That forced the Raptors to step out and anticipate shots, which in turn cleared the middle of the floor for dribble drives — and the paint for Lineberry and McGaughnea, who feasted on the offensive glass.
Add in some well executed fast breaks — mostly led by Walden — and the points started adding up for Chatham Charter. A 24-17 halftime lead soon stretched into double digits: 35-24, 45-32 57-33.
“I felt really comfortable,” Walden said. “I have chemistry with everybody on the team, mostly.”
As the Knights’ lead stretched to 30 behind a free-flowing offense, Ross was able to work in some bench players, too: Loflin, junior guard Mackenzie Brooks, freshman forward Meah Brooks, senior guard Lacie Clark and senior forward Breanna Spinks, all of whom made a few nice plays, according to their coach.
“I’ve seen positive things from everybody on the team,” Ross said.
Perhaps the most telling statistic from Tuesday was that Chatham Charter nearly scored more points in the third quarter (21) and fourth quarter (23) than it did in all of the first half (24). And to Ross, that reflected a gameplan well executed by his forwards and guards and starters and reserves alike.
“It was a tale of two halves,” he said.
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