Huntington guard Chance Chambers didn’t anticipate any trouble falling asleep Wednesday night.
Chambers scored 17 points to lead the Raiders to a 69-60 Thanksgiving Classic Tournament championship game win against Booker T. Washington. The game was Huntington’s second of the day; the Raiders topped Green Oaks Wednesday morning to earn a spot in the tournament final.
“I’m going to sleep well, especially knowing I have this,” Chambers said, showing off his tournament MVP trophy.
Michael Qualls, Huntington’s star player last season, is now playing for Arkansas. But Raiders coach Mack Jones is already seeing players like Chambers step up this year.
“We have a lot of guys who are playing well, and these games early in the season are helping them develop,” Jones said. “We looked a little tired at first. It’s tough to play twice in the same day like we did. But we did well.”
BTW led Huntington for most of the first half. Rayshawn Thomas scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the first quarter to give the Lions a 19-17 lead going to the second quarter.
BTW increased its lead to 25-17, before Chambers hit a floater in the lane to stop the run.
“He’s played a lot of games for us, and he knows how to win,” Jones said. “He’s a returning experienced player, and we expect him to be productive.”
Huntington cut BTW’s lead to three points late in the second quarter, and the Lions led by five, 34-29, at halftime. But in the third quarter, Huntington took a lead and pulled away.
“We went small, with a four-guard lineup,” Jones said. “Our inside player was in foul trouble, and we were a bit tired. So that allowed us to run the clock and pick our spots to attack.”
Jones knew his players were tired from their win against Green Oaks, but that didn’t stop him from demanding they play hard.
“He got on us pretty good after we didn’t play as well to start the game,” Chambers said. “We were definitely fatigued. But we picked it up.”
Aldon Kelly scored all eight of his points in the third quarter, including back-to-back three-pointers that gave Huntington a 40-38 lead. Kenmorria Kendrick, who finished with 13 points, drive the lane, switched to his left hand and made a layup to put the Raiders up 48-44 with 3:00 left in the third.
Huntington’s Kolton Brown made a layup on a fast break and had a block at the end of third, and the Raiders were up 52-45 going to the fourth. Chambers scored eight of his points in the fourth, including six from the free-throw line, and Huntington held off BTW’s late push.
“It’s good to get this win and tournament championship,” Chambers said. “It helps us keep getting better as a team.”
Connect with Brent Shirley on Twitter at @bshirley08.