Chambers Academy boys fall in state championship to Evangel

Published 4:27 pm Saturday, February 16, 2019

MONTGOMERY — The Rebels (18-6) were unable to pull off the magic for one more time this academic year. After winning the JV volleyball and varsity football state championships, the Chambers Academy boys basketball team fell 37-34 in heartbreaking fashion to Evangel Christian on Saturday afternoon at the Multiplex in Montgomery.

“Our guys fought their tails off,” Chambers Academy boys head basketball coach Jason Allen said. “I thought they played as hard as they can play.”

Chambers Academy senior Colton Hand knocked down two big three-pointers in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 34 with 2:10 remaining.

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“I was just trying to do what I could to win the basketball game,” Hand said. “I wanted to contribute like I needed to.”

The next possessions for both Chambers and Evangel ended in turnovers and missed shots in the tense championship environment.

After two offensive rebounds, Evangel swung the ball to the left wing for an open three by junior Solomon Ayemi with 31.1 seconds remaining. Ayemi’s shot put Evangel up for good.

Evangel was led by sophomore point guard Tyree Curry, who finished with 21 points in the low-scoring matchup.

The game was the basketball equivalent to a heavyweight championship fight, with most baskets coming in the paint and from the free throw line.

With Evangel picking up Chambers Academy man-to-man full court, sophomore Payton Allen had trouble advancing the ball past the timeline midfloor. Allen, the Rebels leading scorer this season, was forced to let the seniors take the lead in the game.

Rebels senior Austin Sluder scored many crucial baskets down low for Chambers Academy when the rest of the team struggled to get anything else going offensively. Rebels senior guard Rodricqus Dark knocked down a huge three-pointer with 6 minutes remaining in the game to cut into the team’s deficit. Hand bounced back and finished the game with a team-leading 10 points after struggling to handle the ball in the first half.

“I wasn’t expecting them to be pressuring that much in the first half,” Hand said. “I just had to gather myself at halftime and do what I had to do.”

Allen and Hand were selected to the all-tournament team and a disappointed Rebels squad accepted the runner up trophy after the game.

“I had a good career here at Chambers,” Dark, who sported a black headband on Saturday, said. “We just came up short in the championship game.”

Sluder, Dark and Hand are the only three seniors that the Chambers boys basketball team is losing for next season. The team returns Allen, who will be a junior and Raphe Daniel, the post player transfer from Valley High School next season.

“Our guys are not afraid of failure. You could tell today,” Coach Allen said. “A lot of people didn’t give them a chance to win this basketball game. We were a gnats’ hair from winning it.”