COLUMBUS – If Ray Chambers provides the sugar for the Chillicothe Cavaliers, senior teammate Anthony “Humpty” Hitchens must bring the spice.
The Chillicothe duo combined for 40 points and 13 rebounds, leading the Cavaliers past the Newark Wildcats 59-53 in the Scholastic Play-by-Play Classic at Value City Arena.
“Newark is a good game and it’s hard to pull away against a good team,” Chillicothe coach Gary Kellough said. “We came out in the third quarter and executed well by getting the ball into Chambers.
“Most of the time we have three to four kids really score, but Seth Dawes got into some foul trouble and missed a little over a quarter of play. That took away some of our points and rebounds inside. Humpty was hitting early on, but got tired some in the second half. He fired back up at the end, but Chambers helped us in between.”
Hitchens, awarded team most valuable player honors after the win, led game-scorers with 23 points and also accounted for five rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Chambers, who earned the nickname Sugar during Chillicothe’s run to the Division II regional championship game last season, was close behind with 17 points and eight rebounds.
“Coach (Kellough) stresses team first,” Hitchens said. “I got off to a quick start (16 points in first half), but then they did a good job guarding me in the second half. We showed some poise and worked it inside.”
Newark (10-3) was paced by team MVP Greg Avery with 18 points, eight rebounds and four steals. Dane Kopp followed with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Rahlin Watson also tallied 14 points.
The Wildcats trimmed a 29-24 Chillicothe halftime advantage down to two coming out of the break with Avery coming up with a steal and layup and Cody Dennison draining a free throw.
Chillicothe (10-1) responded by going inside to Chambers. The 6-7 forward didn’t disappoint, dropping 11 points and six rebounds in the period to spring the Cavaliers on a 13-3 run.
”I knew it was important for me to play even harder in the second half,” Chambers said. “We wanted to build on our lead and my teammates did a good job of getting me the ball.”
Trailing 44-35 entering the final period, Newark couldn’t cut into the Cavalier advantage until the last two minutes of the game. Avery hit a layup and was quickly followed by Watson coming up with back to back steals, converting one into two free throws and cashing the other in for a layup, bringing the Wildcats to within two with 1:35 left.
Newark was unable to come any closer as Chillicothe had a parade to the charity stripe in the remaining 90 seconds. The Cavaliers drained eight of 11 free throws to put the game on ice.
Avery and Watson powered Newark early in the Saturday matinee, netting four points each in a 15-11 Newark first period.
Chillicothe took the advantage for good with an 18-9 second quarter, led by Hitchens pouring in eight points in the period and Chambers adding four.
“We were up by five in the second quarter, but we had some lapses and they took advantage of them,” Newark coach Jeff Quackenbush said. “Good teams make you pay for those lapses, but that’s why we want to play games like this so we can learn from our mistakes.”
Chillicothe edged Newark in the rebounding battle 36-33 and had 14 turnovers, compared to 17 for the Wildcats.
Both schools return to league competition next week. Chillicothe heads to Ironton Tuesday for a Southeastern Ohio Athletic League game. Newark travels to Hilliard Darby Friday in Ohio Capital Conference action.