Christmas isn’t for another week, but Shady Spring coach Ronnie Olson got exactly what he wanted Tuesday evening.
He took his Tigers — considered a top Class AA contender — into a difficult road test and came away with a 71-60 victory at Class AAA Capital, keeping Shady unbeaten on the season at 3-0. The other wins, also coming on the road, were to AA powers Fairmont Senior and Robert C. Byrd.
The three-guard trio of Braden Chapman (19 points), Tommy Williams (18) and Luke LeRose (16) fueled the fire for Shady Spring, which used a 19-2 run between the third and fourth quarters to gain some breathing room. The Tigers led by nine points after the first quarter, but saw that melt away before halftime as the youthful Cougars (0-2) put on their best flurry of the night to catch up.
“That was the complete opposite of what we saw Saturday,’’ Olson said. “We played Robert C. Byrd and they got an 18-point lead on us, and we were able to come back. I’m proud of the kids. They gave up a big lead and were still able to keep that same intensity and come back in the second half. They knew they messed up and let them back in the game. They just decided we weren’t going to quit and lay down.’’
Perhaps the most impressive part of Shady’s solid start was that it hardly involved the team’s two All-Staters — LeRose (who played last season at Nicholas County) and Williams. That duo provided only five points in the first quarter as the Tigers took a 23-14 lead. Chapman, an impressive freshman point guard, had 15 of his 19 points in the first half as Shady consistently attacked the basket, often after beating Capital’s trademark pressure defense.
Williams bounced back with 11 points in the third quarter and also grabbed eight rebounds and LeRose went 3 of 6 from 3-point range.
“You can pull any of these kids [aside] and ask them,’’ Olson said. “They know all our kids can score and that’s why it’s so hard to guard them. I’d hate to match up defensively because I know everybody on the floor can shoot. And there’s nobody selfish on the team. You can see they all make the extra pass and look for the open guy. They don’t really care who scores, and that’s why this team is so much fun to coach.’’
Capital coach Matt Greene, meanwhile, saw both the best and worst of his young team in a 32-minute stretch. In the first quarter, the Cougars committed six fouls and seven turnovers. Those totals shrank to two fouls and one turnover in the second period, and they rallied to take the lead. It was tied 36-all at the half. Then 13 more turnovers in the second half ruined any chance of Capital making another run.
“Right now, it’s the inconsistency,’’ said Greene, who lost 10 of his top 11 scorers from last season. “And that’s what we’ve been preaching to them. We’ve got to be consistent in practice and push each other in practice so that when we get out here in games, we can execute some things. We’re having trouble executing right now.’’
The Cougars placed three players in double-figure scoring with Ekia Wicker (14 points), Karrington Hill (10) and De’Mahjae Clark (10). Daimarquis Brooks and Hill managed double-doubles, grabbing 16 and 13 rebounds, respectively. That led Capital to a 43-27 edge off the glass, but the Cougars gave that right back with 21 turnovers.
“We felt like if we can rebound and take care of the ball,’’ Greene said, “we’d be OK. We did OK on the boards and did terrible taking care of the ball.’’