CHAPEL HILL - Chapel Hill High’s boys basketball players didn’t mind coming to school Saturday. In fact they liked it.
The Tigers took to the court for a rare Saturday afternoon game last weekend and came away with a 55-35 in over previously undefeated Greenville Conley.
"It was nice. We had a whole day to prepare," Chapel Hill’s Andrew Grant said. "We didn’t have to worry about school or anything."
Grant was one of 15 different Tigers who scored in the blowout win. Ryan Hegedus was the only one to crack double digits, with 10 points in limited playing time, as head coach Tod Morgan substituted wholesale throughout the game.
"I love playing on Saturday," Hegedus said. "In day games, I always have more energy, because I haven’t gone through the entire school day getting worn down. … This felt a little special."
Morgan had arranged the game with Conley coach Rob Maloney, who Morgan knew since his days at Green Central and New Bern. Both of the longtime friends thought a Saturday matchup against a possible NCHSAA eastern regional team would give their players a foretaste of what the playoffs could be like.
Oxford Webb coach Leo Brunelli and Northwood’s Donald Williams were there to watch the action from the stands.
"If you play in the regionals, you might play on a Saturday afternoon at two o’clock," Morgan said. "And D. H. Conley will be one of the better teams in the Eastern part of the state. You possibly could see them in the regionals."
Conley (6-1) came into Saturday’s game having just beaten Greenville Rose 47-35 on Friday night. That was the Vikings’ second double-digit win this season over their archrival and their third win in four days.
"It’s been a long week. That is no excuse," Maloney said. "We ran into a team that is extremely sound, very well coached in the fundamentals, and they make you pay for not taking care of details. I am very, very impressed with Chapel Hill’s team."
With a week off since the Tigers’ 38-34 loss Nov. 30 at East Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill had plenty of time to scout Conley last week. The Tigers knew they wanted to keep a lid on Conley’s 6-3 Josh Cox, who’d been averaging better than 20 points a game.
"I thought we did a good job with all the little things that we needed to do to limit his touches on the ball. That helped us," Morgan said.
Cox got only one look at the basket in Saturday’s first half and had one point by halftime. He got off only two shots from the field and ended up with just five points — all on free throws.
Dre Suggs was Conley’s top scorer with nine points off three 3-pointers. the Vikings hit a desultory 9-of-27 shots in their lowest scoring game so far this season.
Chapel Hill (3-1) shot better (19-for-36) than Conley and dominated the boards by a 29-12 margin — including 11 offensive rebounds for 14 second-chance points.
The Tigers hit four of their first six shots of the game to open with an 8-0 run. Jamison Richmond scored six points in the paint in the game’s first 4:15, and Hegedus hit a put-back and free throw to make it a 15-2 CHHS lead early in the second quarter.
Anthony Van Hook scored the first four points of the second half before Brian Thornton hit a jumper to give Chapel Hill its biggest lead, at 32-10, with 17:54 left to play. Conley never again got any closer than 34-20 late in the third quarter.
"I was pleased with today’s effort because we had a week to prepare after a game in which we did not play as well as we would like," Morgan said. "It was nice to see how we responded today. We got off to a good start, and I thought that was the key – being prepared and getting off to a good start and being focused."
Chapel Hill hosted 4A powerhouse Durham Hillside on Tuesday and hosts archrival East Chapel Hill (5-1 last weekend) on Friday.
"It’s going to be good for us to play them at our home and to get our home crowd involved," Morgan said. "We had a really good crowd over there, but early on they kind of set the tempo and we played right into that. We can’t do that. We have to play Chapel Hill basketball and play to our tempo."CHHS girls host East on Friday
The Chapel Hill girls (4-0) haven’t played since a 95-22 drubbing Dec. 4 of former conference rival Roxboro Person. The Tigers will host East Chapel Hill (1-5) at 6 p.m. Friday in the first game of a double-header along with the boys’ team.
First-year Tiger Autumn West led the way at Roxboro with a double-double of 13 points and 11 rebounds, along with two assists and three steals.
Catherine Romaine added 12 points and eight rebounds for CHHS, while Arianne Jacobs scored 11 points and Jessica Wall 10. All but one Tiger scored in the game.
"Our girls have been playing extremely well," CHHS coach Sherry Norris said Saturday. "They’re working hard. They’re playing hard. We’re getting plenty of playing time for everyone on the team, and that’s a great thing."
Chapel Hill has benefited from most of the players deciding to stay together as a team over the summer.
"We’ve gotten better because they worked so hard in the off-season," Norris said. "A lot of them were involved in AAU ball, and a lot of them played in a summer league. They played in the state games; they played in a jamboree in High Point. It was almost like another whole season with all that play in the summer. And it makes a big difference when you can get your kids to all play together and to keep them working on their fundamentals."