While Chestatee High’s boys basketball team can be outsized some nights on the floor, Kevin Strickland knows his abled arsenal of shooters can easily make up for it with a wherewithal to catch fire from outside the arc.
The War Eagles’ willingness to ‘live and die’ by the 3 also can get them in trouble too. It was apparent against Denmark on Friday night.
A spotty showing from beyond the 3-point line doomed Chestatee from ever catching a sizable Denmark opponent, which built a comfortable lead early before running away with a 80-60 Region 7-4A win in Gainesville.
The only thing that couldn’t afford to happen to Chestatee (12-6, 3-4 Region 7-4A) did. The hosts couldn’t find a rhythm from outside, managing just a 5-of-19 mark in the first half, and were 7 for 30 for the contest. The War Eagles also struggled to get their lead shooter involved as senior Cameron Gwyn (10 points) was draped by the Danes defense all night and scattered a trio of treys over the first three periods.
Strickland’s unit was just spotty in their shot selection despite getting four 3s from Brenton Nicholson, who finished with 13 points to lead the War Eagles. Ethan Popham was another to tally 10 points for Chestatee, followed by Jonah Bull with eight.
“We’re not gonna win that many games when you shoot that poorly,” said Strickland, whose squad currently sits at fourth in the region standings with three weeks left in the regular season. “At the same time, I was disappointed in the types of shots we were getting. We need to move the basketball more in order to get even better shots. We have dynamic shooters, no doubt. But they’ve got to find shots a little more in rhythm than they did tonight. ... Credit Denmark for getting us off rhythm.”
Meanwhile, Denmark (15-4, 5-2) was the polar opposite from outside. The Danes knocked down 10 3s — six during the first half — while imposing their size on Chestatee with a bevy of putback baskets underneath. As a result, the Danes grew the margin to double-digits by the second period, leading 48-32 at halftime and eventually led by as much as 28 points in the final period.
The War Eagles opened the second half with a spark, scoring seven-straight behind a Nicholson 3-pointer to open the third period. But whatever success Chestatee had moving forward, Denmark easily matched with timely makes and a physicality inside the paint. Minutes later, Clemson University football commit Ze’vian Capers’ 3-pointer sparked a 13-4 Danes run that ultimately put the game out of reach.
The Danes had four scorers total in double digits. Sutton Smith paced the Danes with a game-high 16 points and four 3s. Capers had 15 points, while post players Joseph Scott and Trevor Bryk had 10 apiece. Adonnis Tolbert chipped in eight points, including a two-handed jam from inside the lane during the third period.
Chestatee breaks from region action to host North Hall today for a 5:30 p.m. tip in Gainesville. The War Eagles edged the Trojans in the previous meeting, 58-56, on Dec. 15, 2018.
“We know that they’re gonna come in for revenge, play as hard as they possibly can,” Strickland said of North Hall. “Even though it’s not a region game, it’s certainly one of the most important on our schedule. … As far as the region goes, we’ve positioned ourselves for the first round in a good spot. We’ve just gotta continue to grind and hopefully pull out a few more victories to finish in that four-spot.”
CHESTATEE GIRLS 73, DENMARK 19: From the get-go, Chestatee’s suffocating defense proved too much for the visiting Lady Danes, as the Lady War Eagles quickly jumped out to a double-digit lead and went on to complete the region sweep of Denmark with their biggest margin of victory this season.
Despite a sluggish start, the full-court press of Chestatee (10-9, 5-2 Region 7-4A) hounded Denmark all night. The Lady War Eagles generated a plethora of turnovers, while getting a pair of double-digit showings from Christina Garcia and Maggie McNair.
The Lady War Eagles led 38-15 at halftime and stretched the margin to 54 during a shortened final period.
Senior guard Christina Garcia led the Lady War Eagles with 17 points. Maggie McNair accounted for four of Chestatee’s nine 3-pointers in the game and finished with 16 points. Beth Eddins was another to produce for the hosts with nine points.