By Thomas Grant Jr.
As defending Class 2A champions, Gray Collegiate Academy is accustomed to getting the best efforts from opposing teams.
Tuesday night in the Eagles’ Nest, at least one of the visiting teams found itself on the losing end.
It was the top-ranked Lady War Eagles who fell 37-33 to Chapin.
Sam Stephenson scored 13 points and Reagan Haggard had 11 points and double-digit rebounds for the Lady Eagles, who led from start to finish.
Chapin led as many as 10 points in the first half. Gray Collegiate (2-2) closed the gap to within a point with 5:10 left before Brooke Holmes hit a layup. The Lady War Eagles were held scoreless the rest of the way.
Kadence Walker-Lee led Gray Collegiate with 11 points, Jordan Mintz had eight points and Raina Maters added seven points.
The boys hoped to complete the varsity sweep. The inspired Eagles jumped out to a 14-8 lead on the War Eagles led by Braydyn Francis who had a team-high 14 points.
Francis also sparked the defensive effort by taking five charges in the first half.
Gray Collegiate would use its size and athleticism to outscore Chapin 17-7 in the second quarter to go up 28-21 at halftime.
Ellis Graham scored 12 of his 13 points in the first half and finished with 11 rebounds and six blocks. Braylhan Thomas had 12 points and eight rebounds in dominating the paint.
In the second half, Treyvon Maddox picked up his offense to finish with a game-high 16 points. The War Eagles stretched their lead to as many as 21 points in improving to 4-2 on the season.
“It’s December, so we wanted to play a quality opponent,” Chapin head coach Marquette Carr said. “We wanted to set it as a barometer to see where we stand. I thought we actually played well. We played them last year and we kind of got ran out the gym. This year, I thought we competed, and we saw some things we could build off, for sure.”
Up next for the War Eagles is a return trip to Ridge View for The Bash. They will face St. Francis Episcopal out of Houston, Texas at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
“Great event, a lot of great competition,” Bethea said. “I love the atmosphere. I keep continuing to keep talking about that, but the competition. That first game against St. Francis out of Texas, we’re excited for it. A lot of exposure for the kids. I can’t wait.”