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Chesapeake makes ‘normal’ work of Wheelersburg, 54-51

Chesapeake Panthers’ Levi Blankenship scores between two Wheelersburg defenders as he scores 22 points in a 54-51 win in the district semifinals. (Photo By Tim Gearhart)

Jim Walker

ATHENS — They played like the Chesapeake Panthers, and then they didn’t play like the Chesapeake Panthers.
But in the end, they still won like the Chesapeake Panthers.
The Panthers adjusted their game from some of its normal style and beat the Wheelersburg Pirates 54-51 on Sunday in the Division 3 district semifinals at Ohio University.
“With our defense and what we do, we weren’t that tonight, but we did a good job containing and being physical and not letting ourselves get shoved out of the way. It’s been a lot different that it’s been all year because of less numbers,” said Chesapeake coach Ryan Davis.
“We were a little apprehensive to try and play the way we played all year because we’ve been able to sub all year and subbing was going to be tough today. Even when we didn’t block the shot or get a body on it, they had to shoot over hands. And then we rebounded well.”
The game was tied four times and the lead changed hands five times in the first half. The Panthers’ largest lead was 8-2 on a layup by Levi Blankenship with 2:11 left in the first quarter and the Pirates had a 15-10 lead after a layup by Kenny Sanderlin with 5:40 to go in the half.
Chesapeake regained the lead twice on a 3-pointer by Ethan Taylor at the 4:31 mark and 20-18 when Blankenship sank two free throws with 2:34 on the clock.
But Eli Swords tied the game on a short jumper and Sanderlin gave the Pirates a 22-20 lead with 30 seconds left in the half.
The Panthers biggest problem in the first half was missing a plethora of layups. They were just 3-of-16 from the field in the first quarter and 6-of-13 in the second quarter.
Blankenship’s layup with 4:41 to go in the third quarter put the Panthers up 27-26 and he sank two technical foul free throws a the three-minute mark for a 29-26 lead.
Swords’ 3-pointer tied the game and the teams traded baskets until Blankenship’s driving layup with four seconds on the clock made it 36-34.
It was Blankenship again ding damage to start the fourth quarter as he hit a long 3-pointer and it was 39-34.
A 3-pointer by J.J. Truitt got the Pirates within 43-40 but Trent Dearth had back-to-back layups, Dilen Caldwell turned a steal into a layup and Josh Cox got a layup off a pass from Blankenship and the lead was suddenly 51-40 with 2:26 to play.
Two foul shots by Blankenship with 37 seconds to go made it 54-46 and the Pirates had to scramble for a basket by Sanderlin with 18 seconds left and Swords hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.
“At this point in the year, we haven’t had too many games that were really contested in the fourth quarter. We were kind of laxed (in the fourth quarter) when we could have been a little more aggressive and just attacked there and kept the lead opened up,” said Davis.
“We didn’t turn the ball over a lot. For the most part we took good shots. Our offensive movement early wasn’t great and then in the second half we started to settle down a little bit and get ourselves some decent looks. But for us not to score much in transition and still score is big.”
Blankenship had a game-high 22 points to go with 3 assists. Taylor had 14 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Josh Cox had 7 rebounds and 2 blocks.
Miller had 15 points to lead the Pirates (21-3) while Sanderlin had 11 points and 6 rebounds and Swords 11 points. McCorkle grabbed 13 rebounds and Truitt 9.
UP NEXT: Chesapeake plays fellow Ohio Valley Conference member Fairland at 6:15 p.m. Friday in the district finals at Ohio University.
Chesapeake 8 12 16 17 = 54
Wheelersburg 6 16 12 17 = 51
CHESAPEAKE (20-3): Travis Grim 1 0 0-0 2, Levi Blankenship 4 2 8-8 22, Trent Dearth 2 0 0-1 4, Josh Cox 1 0 0-0 2, Ethan Taylor 1 4 0-1 14, Dilen Caldwell 2 1 1-3 8, Nathan Cox 1 0 0-0 2. Totals: 19-48 9-13 54. 3-pt goals: 6-21. Rebounds: 6-O, 19-D = 25 (Taylor 9, J. Cox 7). Team/deadball rebounds: 2. Assists: 5 (Blankenship 3). Steals: 6 (J. Cox 2). Turnovers: 7. Blocks: 4 (Taylor 2, J. Cox 2). Fouls: 9. Fouled out: None.
WHEELERSBURG (21-3): Matt Miller 5 1 2-2 15, Eli Swords 1 3 0-0 11, Carter McCorkle 2 0 2-2 6, J.J. Truitt 1 1 3-4 8, Gage Adkins 0 0 0-0 0, Aaron Jolly 0 0 0-0 0, Kenny Sanderlin 5 0 1-1 11. Totals: 19-56 8-9 51. 3-pt goals: 5-21. Rebounds: 15-O, 28-D = 43 (McCorkle 13, Truitt 8, Sanderlin 6). Team/deadball rebounds: 3. Assists: 6 (Miller 2). Steals: 6 (McCorkle 3, Truitt 2). Fouls: 15. Fouled out: Miller (4th 0:37).