Knights 45, Eagles 28

Chatham Charter’s defense turns up heat in 17-point win over Faith Christian

Posted 11/23/21

SILER CITY — A win’s a win.

That’s the mindset of the Chatham Charter women’s basketball team coming off of a home victory over the Faith Christian Eagles last …

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Knights 45, Eagles 28

Chatham Charter’s defense turns up heat in 17-point win over Faith Christian

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Posted

SILER CITY — A win’s a win.

That’s the mindset of the Chatham Charter women’s basketball team coming off of a home victory over the Faith Christian Eagles last Tuesday, 45-28, in what could only be described as an imperfect game by the Knights.

However, despite a slow start and myriad mistakes, Chatham Charter didn’t just scrape by with a win — it won in near-dominant fashion.

It may not have been pretty, but adding another tally to the win column is all that matters, said the team’s head coach, Jeff Patterson.

“Like I told the girls, a win’s a win,” Patterson said after the victory. “We’ll take an ugly win or a good win. They’re working hard. We’ve got to get a little more unselfish, but other than that, everything’s been great.”

The Knights and Eagles were even at the end of the first period, 7-7, as both teams got off to a less-than-stellar start.

In the first period alone, the two teams combined for seven turnovers, including four by the Knights, who made a couple of errant passes that either landed right into the Eagles’ hands or sailed out of bounds.

And while the Knights excelled in getting offensive rebounds in the opening quarter — including one possession with three in a row — they struggled to capitalize on second (and third) chances.

The Knights racked up six offensive rebounds on four possessions in the first period, but came away with zero points.

But, as has been the case for Patterson’s team this season, they took their cold start and turned up the heat later in the game.

“When it was 7-7, I’m thinking, ‘Uh oh, this is going to be one of those tough games like we played last Friday (against N.C. School of Science & Math),’” Patterson said. “Last Friday, it was a five-point game with five minutes to go and we ended up scoring 28 points in the fourth quarter (to win).”

While it wasn’t quite as dramatic of a finish as the game against the Unicorns, the Knights — specifically, their defense — flipped a switch in the second quarter.

Chatham Charter did all it could to make Faith Christian uncomfortable in the second, playing a tight zone defense that disrupted passing lanes and gave the Eagles’ ballhandlers little-to-no space to maneuver with the ball.

In total, the Knights forced eight turnovers in the second quarter en route to a shut-out performance, converting four Eagles turnovers into buckets on the other end.

Knights center Alexis Baldwin, a 5-foot-9 senior, was the major contributor on offense in the second, grabbing boards and dominating in the paint, scoring six of her 12 points just before halftime.

While she didn’t always score off of her offensive rebounds, her ability to give her team multiple opportunities on any given possession was extremely valuable, said Patterson.

“It’s great to have an experienced post player,” Patterson said about Baldwin. “She kept wanting to play out(side of the paint) and I was like, ‘Hey, I need you on the block.’ But now, she’s bought in. We’ve just got to get her to finish those layups.”

At the game’s halfway point, the Knights led the Eagles, 24-7, and were in the midst of a 17-0 run that was capped off by a buzzer-beating corner three-pointer from senior Mackenzie Brooks.

It was a surprisingly impressive and polished quarter from a team that struggled in the opening period.

“The girls have a tendency to turn it on when they want to,” Patterson said. “But you can’t always do that. You’ve got to come out of the gate ready to play, from the first quarter to the fourth. And that’s what I’m trying to get them to do.”

After a relatively quiet first half, Knights junior guard Tamaya Walden broke out of her shell in the third quarter, scoring 13 points — including two three-pointers — and igniting the Knights’ attack while continuing to play lockdown defense.

With 6:05 to play in the third, Walden intercepted an Eagles pass to the left and raced down the court for an easy fastbreak layup to give the Knights a 31-9 lead and forced Faith Christian to call a timeout.

At that point, it was all but over.

“Tamaya makes things go,” Patterson said. “As the old saying goes, she’s she straw that stirs the drink. With her on the floor, things run a lot smoother. … Right now, she’s got the green light.”

At the end of the third period, the Knights had amassed a 23-point lead, 39-16, thanks to a second-straight buzzer-beating three — this one from Walden — and were just eight minutes away from continuing their perfect season.

And with 4:40 left to play and Chatham Charter comfortably ahead, 43-20, Patterson took out his starters and emptied his bench.

The Knights’ bench unit turned the ball over five times and allowed an 8-2 run in the final five minutes, but it was much too late for the Eagles to mount any sort of comeback. Once the final buzzer sounded, the Knights had finished a hard-earned, 17-point victory.

Just two days later, the Knights went on to defeat the Vandalia Christian Vikings, 50-28, on Thursday to improve to 5-0, but then lost to the Uwharrie Charter Eagles, 56-42, for their first defeat of the season on Friday.

With a 5-1 record and a relatively young roster, Patterson sounded optimistic about how far his team could go this year after winning the Central Tar Heel 1A conference the last two seasons.

“Barring no injuries or COVID, I feel like we should compete for the conference again, like we did last year,” Patterson said. “Our first goal is to win the conference, second goal is to win the conference tournament and qualify for the state playoffs, then we’ll go from there. … We’re not going to look ahead. We take care of business here, move on and get ready for the next ballgame.”

Reporter Victor Hensley can be reached at vhensley@chathamnr.com or on Twitter at @Frezeal33.

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