ALTAMAHAW — A bid for its first ever league title fell just short for the Chatham Charter boys team here on Friday night in Altamahaw at Clover Garden Charter School as the Knights failed on two …
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ALTAMAHAW — A bid for its first ever league title fell just short for the Chatham Charter boys team here on Friday night in Altamahaw at Clover Garden Charter School as the Knights failed on two scoring opportunities in the final 14 seconds of the contest to suffer a gut-wrenching 46-45 defeat to Research Triangle in the finals of the 1A Central Tar Heel Conference Tournament.
In reality, the loss did nothing to affect Chatham Charter in regards to seeding in this week’s NCHSAA State Playoffs as Research Triangle already had the top-seed wrapped up entering the event, while the Knights clinched second two nights earlier in the semi’s with a 52-50 triumph over Chatham Central. But to miss bringing the Siler City school its first conference title will sting for a while.
“It’s a tough way to lose, we had our chances down the stretch and just couldn’t make the key shot when we needed it,” said Chatham Charter head coach Jason Messier. “We battled against a very good team in Research Triangle and put ourselves in position to win. It just didn’t happen.”
Messier was proud of how his club competed the entire night.
“Honestly, it felt like a playoff game as far as intensity goes, and that should help us next week when the states start,” continued Messier. “Our kids gave a great effort and I think came focused and ready to play. Turnovers hurt, we gave away too many possessions, and we couldn’t buy a three-point attempt. But we competed hard, and played hard defensively in what was a grind it out type of game. I’m proud of our guys.”
The two teams split in the regular season including Chatham Charter taking a 66-64 victory in Siler City back in late January.
The contest was back and forth in the opening half with neither team managing more than a five point cushion as the opening period ended with Chatham Charter leading 14-13, before Research Triangle scored the final six points of the second quarter, including four by Beau Bryant, to take a 26-24 advantage into the break.
Connor Murphy tallied 14 first half points on a variety of drives while Jordan Hamilton powered in 10 more from down in the paint.
The Raptors opened on an 11-5 spurt to open the third quarter as the Knights struggled to get any clean looks due to the length of the Research Triangle defenders. Bryant had five points in the surge by the Raptors while Ethan Clappenbach chipped four more.
Trailing 37-29 with 2:33 left in the frame, Chatham Charter went on a 6-1 run to close the period and trim the deficit to 38-35 entering the fourth. Baggio Rodriguez make a steal and converted a lay up for his initial bucket of the contest before cutting to the basket and scoring off an assist from Murphy to highlight the Knights surge.
It was a defensive battle the entire night as the officials let the players play, and the final eight minutes of action was no different.
With the tournament title on the line, both squads left it all on the court. Hamilton canned a pair of baskets in the stanza, the final of which closed the gap to 44-43 with 2:53 left in the contest.
Bryant yanked down a rebound and scored moments later to send the Raptors back in front 46-43, but a driving Murphy hoop drew Chatham Charter to within a point once again at the 2:07 mark.
Research Triangle would hold the ball for a minute before the Knights elected to foul with :51.5 ticks remaining on the clock. Jonny Roberts missed the attempt, and Hamilton pulled own his game-high 12th rebound of the contest to give Chatham Charter possession.
A forced jump ball resulted in the Knights luckily regaining possession with 14.7 seconds remaining, but Knight guard Cole Milholen had the ball knocked off his leg and to roll out of bounds on a nice defensive play by the Raptors.
Bryant would miss at the line, however, and with 4.7 seconds remaining, Chatham Charter called a timeout.
Staring at going the full length of the court, all the nights could muster was a 30-foot heave from Milholen which was partially tipped by the 6’4 Bryant as the buzzer sounded.
Hailton paced Chatham Charter with 18 points, going 7-of-11 from the field, while Murphy chipped in 16 points, four rebounds and an assist.
The Knights were down right dismal from behind the arc, shooting 6% (1-16), with A.J. Alston making the lone attempt in his nine tries.
Bryant paced the Raptors with 17 points and 11 rebounds while Klappenbach chipped in 10 points, and Josh McLaurin and Keeyan Itejere six apiece.
Chatham Charter (26-4) was scheduled to host South Stokes on Tuesday in Siler City in West Bracket play in opening round action of the 1A NCHSAA State Playoffs while Research Triangle (23-3) was slated to host Roxboro Community Charter than same night in the East Bracket.