CHRISTOPHER — Chester was leading by four points when Bradley Young scored five straight points to spark Christopher to a 40-33 win in a key Black Diamond West boys basketball game Tuesday.
"This was a very good win for us conference wise," said Christopher coach Eric Stallman. "Sesser-Valier is still sitting on top with no losses and they beat us when we didn’t have Jared Curry, so we’ll see what happens next time we play them."
It was a battle between two evenly matched teams that came in with the same overall record of 14-5.
"We dominated early, but then they went to the packed in 2-3 and jammed our bigs and made us shoot," said Chester coach Brad Norman. "When you make us shoot we’re in trouble. We haven’t found much groove from the outside against anybody. I felt we were in control a lot of the game, so I think if we did a little bit better job of shooting the ball tonight we would have won. We also had 17 turnovers and when you turn the ball over that much against a good team you are wasting opportunities."
It turned out to be a low scoring game, with neither team having a good shooting night. The Bearcats shot .333 from inside the arc (9-of-27), .250 from beyond (2-of-8) and .750 from the line (18-of-24) while the Yellow Jackets shot .407 from inside (11-of-27), .214 from the outside (3-of-14), but attempted only two free throws the entire game making both of them.
"Chester does a good job of controlling the tempo," Stallman said. "We like to get up and down and Coach Norman does a great job of slowing us down. That’s not what we do, but we responded well in the second half. I do feel that if we shot the ball better and that’s uncharacteristic of us we might have gotten on a roll. We played a lot of games at the Mid-Winter and maybe we had some heavy legs because we struggled at the line, too."
Chester (14-6, 4-2 BDW) was holding a four-point lead with 5:08 remaining when Bradley Young drew a foul and made both his free throws. On the Yellow Jackets next possession, Young stole the ball and raced the length of the court and scored on a layup while being fouled. The senior made the free throw to complete the three-point play and give the Bearcats the lead 32-31.
"Young is a great athlete," Stallman said. "He’s capable of doing that at any time. We were not in foul trouble, so we decided to put more pressure on them and that Young got a three-point play at a key moment."
Gabriel Motsinger then stole the ball and fed Curry, who was fouled. The senior missed his first attempt, but made his second to extend the lead. Young was then fouled again and split his free throw attempts to give the Bearcats a three-point lead with 2:02 remaining.
Christopher (15-5, 4-1 BDW) was sent to the line four more times in the final two minutes making 4-of-6 to put the game away.
Young led the game with 13 points, including 5-of-9 from the line. The guard also had eight rebounds, six steals and one blocked shot.
The Bearcats trailed the majority of the first half falling behind 6-0 to open game. Christopher trailed 13-8 heading into the second quarter, but went on a 7-2 run to tie the score at 15 behind a 3-pointer by Curry, a layup by Young and a long jumper by Bryce Pratt.
Chester regained the lead on a layup by Drake Bollman, but a basket by Gage Hawkins with five seconds left tied the score again at the half.
Hawkins opened the third quarter with a putback. Motsinger scored the next five points on a jumper and 3-of-4 from the line to give the Bearcats a five-point lead.
"We were getting out-rebounded at halftime, so we went to a zone," Stallman said. "Chester is a very post-driven team and switching defenses to the zone really helped."