By Dave Morrison
My takeaways from Class AAA No. 4 Shady Spring’s Class AAA Region 3, Section 1 rival game with Westside.
If he hadn’t already – not likely – Shady Spring’s Braden Chapman is quickly becoming one of the premier players in the state.
For the third straight game, Chapman set a new career high when he poured in 37 points against the Renegades in an 85-57 Shady SPring victory.
That followed games of 32 against Poca, and another of the state’s premier players, Virginia commit Isaac McKneely and 33 against Wyoming East.
It harkens back to a day – lastly in the early 80s for really big scorers – when 30-plus averages were more of a norm, but in these times turning 30 plus in three straight isn’t as common as it sounds.
In fact, other than Chapman’s teammate at Shady Spring last year, Luke LeRose, who did it twice during his junior year at Nicholas, I can’t find anyone else over the last three season’s who has done it.
It doesn’t matter if he is shooting from distance (he has 23 3s (16 in the last three games) or driving to the basket, where he showcased several moves for baskets against the Renegades.
He also has second gear, several times beating Westside defenders off the dribble. Once he get in the paint he is hard to handle, and he has made 24 of 28 free throws.
But like all the great ones, it’s not just the points that make Chapman the special player he is becoming.
Over that same three-game span he is averaging 8.3 rebounds, 6.3 steals and 3.7 assists.
Those are close to his season averages as well, a season in which he is now averaging an area-best 25.3 points per game. He is just 13 points from his career 500th point in just 28 varsity games.
It’s not just things found on the stat sheet. He already speaks like a leader.
“My teammates find me,” he said of the points explosion. “And the hard work I’ve been putting in behind the scenes.”
Coach Ronnie Olson went a bit further.
“What makes Braden so special is what’s in here (points to heart) and what’s on here (points to shoulder),” Olson said. “What I mean by that is the chip that he plays with every game. He plays with that chip that you can’t teach, you can’t coach. He wants to go out and be the best every game. He wants to get the best of whoever is guarding him, he hates everybody he plays, he dislikes every team he plays. He has that ‘me against the world’ mentality and I think that’s what drives him.”
What he won’t say his brother Cole Chapman was all too happy to add.
“When he is hitting you just feed him the ball,” Cole said. “He gives credit to us for giving him the ball, but we have to give him credit for making (baskets).”
And speaking of Cole, the quiet Chapman twin, all he did against Westside was put together a standard triple-double, with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
“He’s our engine,” Olson said. “For very good team there is a great point guard behind it. He leads us. Braden gets a lot of the pub (publicity), he scores. That (triple double) is the first one I can remember in a long time. He distributes, he rebounds, he defends. He defends the other teams best player. He wants to take on that challenge.
And it’s not like he can’t score. He is averaging 15.3 points, has 11 3s and has made 17 of 22 free throws.
When you add Todd Duncan, who averages 13.3 points, the Tigers have one of the areas most prolific guard units. The trio has combined for 53 3s, more than any other team. Because of so many covid cancellations and postponements, it’s worth noting that the Shady three average more per game than any area team other than Oak Hill (9.0-8.8 per game), another prolific 3-point shooting team.
As for Westside, Shawn Jenkins promised some changes are coming.
The most important for the Renegades will be the return of point guard Daniel Reed, who missed two games (Region 3, Section 1 tilts with Herbert Hoover and Shady Spring) with a concussion in an 86-80 victory over PikeView last week.
But it’s more than that, Jenkins said.
“Our defense is just not very good right now,” Jenkins said. “I don’t know of anything we’re doing good right now, just to be honest with you. We have to get back to practice and see if we can iron some things out.”
The most frustrating thing for Jenkins was something that each player can control, effort.
“You can’t come into a game like this and not put forth any effort,” Jenkins said. “We didn’t have any grit, we didn’t have any effort, no nothing. So the results are what they are.”
What can he do to change that fact?
“There’s something we can do and we are going to do it tomorrow in practice,” Jenkins said. “Im going to get some attention or some things are going to change.”
Dale Bledsoe and Austin Cline got most of the playing time in Reed’s absence.
“One is a sophomore and one is a junior,” Jenkins said. “When Daniel graduates and walks across that stage next year, the ball is in their hands. You think they would relish the opportunity. It’s not that they are doing bad. Dale Bledsoe played a heck of a game to help us win at PikeView when Daniel went down.”
The game comes at you fast, though, especially against a defensive minded team like Shady Spring.
Several times Westside shooter Evan Colucci was open on the 3 point line, but nobody could get him the ball.
The return of Reed, who is one of the area’s fastest players, with a quick first step, three years of varsity experience and good court vision, will fix a lot of that problem
One bright note was the continuing development of 6-9 post Shandell Adkins, who has played his best basketball of the season in the last couple of games. He had a season-high nine points and eight rebounds against Shady Spring.
One of the state’s most anticipated games featured some big time players on a big time stage.
Morgantown was able to avenge it’s only loss of the season when it beat Robert C. Byrd 56-44 in Clarksburg and ended the state’s longest win streak at 28 games. The last team to beat the Byrd was the aforementioned Shady Spring in Dec. 2019.
Byrd had beaten the Mohigans 69-56 12 days earlier.
Morgantown outscored RCB 20-2 in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
Dave Tallman’s team trailed Byrd by 11 in the second half before rallying.
Luke Bechtel has upped the ante on both ends of the floor this season. He had 14 points and nine rebounds against RCB, but he also took on the tall task of guarding RCB’s Bryson Lucas. Lucas ha 25 points and 16 rebounds, a huge game against the premier Class AAAA team like Morgantown, but the had just six over the second half. Xavier Pryor had 12 points for the winners, who will be in Beckley next week and will face Shady Spring in the New River CTC at the Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center.
Interestingly enough, the two coaches, Shady Spring’s Olson and Morgantown’s Dave Tallman once played against each other in the state championship, when Tallman’s Magnolia squad beat Olson and Independence in the 2000 Class AA state championship game.