POCA — For four years, everyone in the Cardinal Conference has known that Chapmanville’s Obinna Anochili-Killen can beat you with his defense.
But now that he’s a senior, the Marshall signee is proving that he can also beat you with his offense.
Killen scored 25 points Friday night, including two big baskets in the fourth quarter, as the No. 1-ranked Tigers held off No. 3 Poca 45-40 in a battle of top-5 Class AA teams in front of a standing-room-only crowd of about 1,400 at Allen Osborne Court.
The 6-foot-8 Killen also donated 10 rebounds and five blocked shots as the Tigers (10-2) built big leads in each half but had to fend off rallies from the Dots (9-2). In earlier seasons, Killen — a four-year starter — was merely a rebounder who hit a few stickbacks per game.
“It’s been a process,’’ Chapmanville coach Brad Napier said of Killen’s emergence as an offensive force. “He’s been working really hard on his ball skills and is one of the hardest-working kids I’ve been around. He’s a gym rat who loves to play the game. He’s come along so much and I’m super proud of him.
“He can pretty much play any position on the floor now. We played him some tonight at the point position, put him on the wings, inside. He’s an all-around guy. His versatility is what helps him now and will help him at the next level.’’
With Killen swatting away shots inside, Poca never had much luck attacking the basket, going 5 of 26 shooting inside the 3-point arc. But outside the line, the Dots were able to make enough to stay in the game, going 10 of 17 for 30 of their 40 points.
Sophomore guard Isaac McKneely went 6 of 10 on 3-pointers to lead Poca with 20 points.
“I thought we did a pretty good job of guarding the 3, too,’’ Napier said. “McKneely made some very difficult shots. He got hot. We did about as much as we could. He’s outside in space and he’s falling back and hits some big-time shots.’’
Chapmanville jumped into a 17-3 lead in the first quarter before the Dots battled back to come within 24-22 at the half. Then Poca suffered through an 0-of-9 shooting effort in the third quarter and failed to score a point as the Tigers went up 33-22.
Poca, though, cut it to 33-30 on a 3-ball from Noah Rittinger (11 points) and later came within 37-35 on a layup by Nate Vance with 2:15 left in the game. That play was set up when Ethan Payne swiped the ball from Killen near midcourt.
However, each time Poca threatened to go ahead, Killen put his foot down. He made a nifty spin move into the lane for a bank shot and a 35-30 lead, and later hit a short driving shot to bump it back to 39-35 with 1:57 remaining.
“He can beat you off the dribble,’’ Poca coach Allen Osborne said of Killen. “He’s an athlete. He’s a tough matchup defensively because if you put a guard on him, he’s going to post you up and if you put a big guy on him, he’ll go by him. And he’s such a good defender and changes things around the rim. He did a good job keeping us from the rim.
“But I’m happy with our guys, proud of the way they fought. We replaced four starters and we’re still figuring out where to go and what to do. We did some good things. The big thing was we couldn’t get our offense going, nothing consistently. We’ve just got to execute and make some shots.’’
Andrew Shull added 10 points for Chapmanville and Brody Dalton grabbed 12 rebounds as the Tigers led 28-26 off the boards. Payne and Vance each had six rebounds for the Dots.