Panthers Win; Have Path to Region
We’re coming down to crunch time for the 2020-2021 high school basketball season and the region battles are getting just as tight. Last night, the Chapman Panthers and Emerald Vikings did battle with 2nd place in region 3-3A, a playoff spot, and a chance to still win the region on the line.
There wasn’t as much fanfare that you might expect in this game. Both teams got off to a sluggish start, with all the offense coming from taking advantage of what the opposition gave them inside. Emerald started the game on a 6-2 run, which would end up setting the pace for how most of the first half of the game would go.
Chapman struggled to get their offense going, in part because of their tendency to shoot the J without hesitation. At times, it was like watching Clemson. Like the Tigers,, Chapman did not have much success from beyond the arch, shooting for somewhere in the avenue of 25-30 percent. They also struggled with the turnover bug. About the 5:00 mark of the 2nd quarter, Chapman had 4 consecutive possessions end on 3 traveling calls & a bad pass, which the Vikings took advantage of, going on a 14-2 run. With 2:30 to play in the half, Chapman trailed by 12.
The Panthers came storming back over the final 2:00, ending the half on a 9-0 run. While the Panthers did struggle from downtown, they did hit back to back clutch threes from Senior shooting guard Gavin Humphries, which were key to closing that gap. They went into the half trailing by just a point 29-28.
The 3rd quarter started off much the same as the 1st, with Chapman putting themselves in a hole by continuing to miss three pointers. The Panthers trailed by 6 early on in the 3rd, but just like at the end of the first half, Chapman fought all the way back with a 7-0 run to take their first lead of the game on a wide open layup by Banks Atkins with :59 left in the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Chapman was finally able to wear Emerald down and put the game away. Chapman was able to establish a presence under the rim, forcing the Vikings to try to air it out from the perimeter more. Emerald went cold, and with the help of Banks Atkins, the Panthers went on a 10-2 run to seal it.
Chapman was led by 6 foot senior point guard Banks Atkins, who finished with 25 points and 5’ 10” junior guard Miles Carter who had 14. Atkins was every bit as advertised, being the season leader in points scored. But, what most impressed me about Chapman was the poise and resilience they showed every time they dug themselves into a hole. Winners respond well to adversity, and Chapman definitely played like winners.
Emerald was carried by their 2 leading shooters on the season in Pharrell Long and Seth Forrester. Both were in double figures by halftime. Long finished with a team high 18 points while Forrester had 17. Zac Elmore also contributed with 10 points for the Vikings.
With the win, Chapman solidified themselves in 2nd in Region III-AAA. But this race is far from over. Woodruff’s 71-60 loss to Union opens the door for Chapman to still win the region. But, also, Emerald is only a game back from Chapman. Everyone in this region is within a game of each other except for Union.
Chapman has 3 games left to make a push at the title, with their next matchup being a region game at Clinton on Tuesday. Emerald gets a week off with their final 2 games being region battles with Clinton and Union County.
While Woodruff is stil the favorite to win it, the race is wide open in 3-3A. Will it take until the end of the season or will it be decided this week? I can’t wait to find out!