• 41°
Rashad Milligan | Times-News Veteran Leadership: Chambers Academy senior C.J. Lyons handles the ball during a full-court press from Evangel on Monday night. Lyons made a crucial bucket in the final minute of the win.

Chambers Academy boys win in basketball opener after winning football title

LaFAYETTE — The memory is still fresh for the Rebels, but time halts for no one.

Less than weeks after winning the school’s first state championship in football, the Chambers Academy boys basketball team returned to action on Monday night against Evangel with a 67-59 win.

“We haven’t practiced in three-or-four days, and it looked like it,” Chambers Academy boys head basketball coach Jason Allen said. “I liked the way our guys competed. We got up and down the floor, we played at a good tempo, we hit some shots. There’s a lot to work on defensively. Some turnovers here and there. Some scenarios where we didn’t play exactly right, but we got a W, and it’s really easy to build off of a W to get better the next week.” 

Chambers Academy leaned heavily on do-it-all 6-foot-3 sophomore Payton Allen early in the game. Allen got his way on the offensive end of the floor against Evangel, whether it was a full-court pass, a no-look pass, or a mid-range jumper. The only thing that could stop Payton Allen was his fatigue, which eventually showed itself.

“We played eight guys tonight, but we have to get Payton a little bit of rest,” Coach Allen said. “He probably stayed out there a little too long tonight, and it might have shown in the fourth quarter.”

At halftime, instead of warming up, Payton sat on the bench with his head hanging, appearing to try to catch a breather. Only two weeks ago, Allen scrambled into the end zone in arguably the biggest play in school history to essentially clinch the football state title as the team’s quarterback.

Payton still finished tied with another football player, Colton Hand, as the Rebels’ leading scorer on the night with 27 points.

“I thought Colton and Payton carried us well offensively,” Coach Allen said. “They’re going to have to, they’ve been playing for us a really long time.”

Chambers Academy’s senior point guard Rodrigus Dark did a solid job of maintaining the Rebels tempo throughout the night as Evangel kept going on scoring runs, and began to pressure Chambers Academy the length of the floor.

Raphe Daniel also grabbed a few crucial rebounds for the Rebels in the second half.

“I was  really impressed with our big guys, as far as  getting up on the boards, and I think we have a chance to be a really good inside team as the year goes on also.”

Seniors C.J. Lyons and Colton Hand hit a few key shots in the waning moment of Monday night’s game, as well.

“That’s what you want seniors to do,” Coach Allen said. “Make plays in clutch situations, and I thought we did. The game was tied there, it could’ve gone either way. We made a stop, got a board, went up by two, and then I thought we stalled. Then, Payton got a good look to C.J. out of the high post, and we got an and-one, which really put the game away for us.”

The Rebels return to action on Thursday night to face Eastwood before playing at rival Springwood School on Friday.

Last season, the Rebels’ season ended in the Final Four of the AISA state tournament.