Chapel Hill coach Lason Perkins was best known for developing the Tigers’ offenses in the five years he served as an assistant before taking over as head coach this season. But it was his team’s defense Friday that won Perkins his first-ever matchup with crosstown rivals East Chapel Hill, in a 37-36 home victory.
“The biggest difference now is that I’ve kind of had to take the big picture overall,” he said, “in terms of what we need to do offensively, defensively, in terms of the culture that we’re still trying to maintain here at the school.”
Chapel Hill had to contend with East Chapel Hill’s superior athleticism and size, especially in the form of 6-foot-8 forward Lawyer Dallas. In the second quarter, Tykeem Woodard secured a steal and lobbed up an alley-oop for a streaking Arkavious Parks on the right side. Parks jammed it home as he sailed under the backboard, giving the Wildcats their largest lead of the game at 17-13.
Neither team led by more than five the entire contest, and the score after halftime was a meager 16-14 in favor of Chapel Hill after East Chapel Hill took a 22-21 lead after two quarters. During the second half, the Tigers were more successful in protecting the ball and thus preventing easy looks for East Chapel Hill in transition.
“We just wanted to make sure we were solid in containing the dribble penetration,” Perkins said. “Right now, we’re so young that it’s almost that we have to be more of a half court team and just kind of grind it out.”
In the fourth quarter, two free throws by East Chapel Hill’s Robert Wilson, who led the team in scoring with 12 points, brought the Wildcats within one at 37-36 at with two minutes to play. Chapel Hill took the ball past half court and dribbled out about 30 seconds of clock before Perkins called timeout with 1:05 remaining.
The Tigers continued to play keep-away until a Wildcat double-team fouled Hill with 42 seconds left. Hill missed both free throws, though, and East Chapel Hill took a timeout to draw up a game-winning play.
But Woodard, running the point, couldn’t find an opening in the Tiger defense. Wildcat coach Ray Hartsfield called another timeout with 16.9 seconds on the clock, but to no avail: Wilson was eventually forced to take a contested, off-balance floater in the lane, and Chapel Hill came down with the rebound. Chapel Hill’s student section streamed onto the court as the horn sounded.
Girls: CHHS 68, East 33
As if there were any other way, Chapel Hill’s girls basketball team took its third straight win in dominating fashion Friday, downing East Chapel Hill 68-33.
East’s Wildcats, playing at Chapel Hill in their 20-13-14 season opener, did better than either of the Tigers’ first two opponents.
Chapel Hill (3-0) opened its season on Monday with a 54-16 thumping of Franklinton and then routed Northern Durham – the Tigers’ bête noire when they were in the 4A PAC-6 – by an even bigger 70-22 margin on Tuesday.
“I thought my girls did a really good job tonight of playing hard,” Chapel Hill head coach Sherry Norris said. “They were very aggressive. They got a lot of steals and were able to finish.”
Chapel Hill made 25 steals and scored 27 points directly off East turnovers, plus another 10 points off other transition baskets. Most of the Tigers had more steals than rebounds.
“Our players got a lot of steals, and they were able to finish,” Norris noted.
Autumn West, who emerged last year as regular in the front court, led the scoring Friday with 15 points and now is the only Tiger on the deep Chapel Hill roster averaging double digits, with 10.7 points a game.
First-year varsity player Helen Gaynes had game highs of five steals and four rebounds to go with 14 points against East.
Ali Cyr-Scully led East with 13 points, hitting three 3-pointers along the way. Sarah Towne, who nailed one 3-pointer, chipped in nine points and Adorable Bigelow added eight.
East next plays in a triple-header Tuesday at home, with the JV boys and varsity. against Carrboro.
The CHHS boys host Southern Lee on Monday. Chapel Hill’s girls are off until a double-header with the boys Dec. 3 at Fayetteville Westover.