With seven minutes to play and Campus up four, Sterling Chapman made his mark.
Newton’s Cailen Valdez had the ball on a breakaway, but Chapman chased him down for a block at the hoop. He gathered the ball and sprinted the other way.
Flying and spinning 180 degrees for a layup, Chapman took a foul and scored.
Campus beat Newton 70-68 in overtime Friday night for the Colts’ eighth win in nine games since New Year’s Day. Chapman, a freshman, scored a career-high 31 points and had his teammates cheering for him in the locker room afterward.
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“I feel like I can go out there and compete with anyone,” he said. “And the next man, I feel like I’m better than him, and I’m gonna try to show that.”
The game was one of body blows. Early in the first quarter, Newton led by eight. Early in the third, Campus charged back to tie the score at 40 and eventually led by 10 in the fourth. Railroaders’ sophomore Ty Berry went to work and helped push Newton back in front.
Chapman had the final punch though.
With Berry fouled out, Chapman scored 19 points in the final 12 minutes, including overtime. His brother, Steele, said watching Sterling in that zone was special.
“It’s a dream come true,” Steele said looking at his brother. “We knew coming over here that we were gonna do something special, and it’s all coming along.”
The Colts started 0-6, but since their 30-point loss at Salina Central, they have beaten Arkansas City, Collegiate, Newton and others.
Campus coach Chris Davis said the change was all because of chemistry, and with that, his team is making noise when some wrote the season off.
“You can’t make people respect you, but you can sure make them not disrespect you,” Davis said. “That’s all we’re trying to do.”
Campus has several new players this season. Sterling is a freshman. Steele is a sophomore who transferred from South. And there are three other sophomores on the Colts’ roster.
Shooting guard and quarterback Federico Harvey is the only senior.
Because of the inexperience, the Chapman brothers said Campus had trouble closing games early this season. The Colts led Derby with 10 seconds left and Maize with under a minute.
After the holiday break, Sterling said there was an added edge to the group after earning its first win, a 16-victory at Ark City.
“Our team in 2017 probably wouldn’t have pulled that out,” he said. “But this 2018 team is great, and we’ve got more to show.”
The Colts have confidence now.
Junior Tyler Kahmann, their leading scorer coming in, went from averaging about six points per game in 2017 to almost 15 in 2018. With the addition of some explosion to the basket with the Chapmans and Harvey, Davis said his team looks a lot different.
“It’s night and day,” he said. “When you win, that takes care of a lot of things.”
Steele said it certainly doesn’t hurt when someone scores 31. Having a go-to scorer has turned Campus from a team at the bottom to one that is as hot as any other in the area.
“I just kept saying, ‘Hey, we’re gonna keep going; we’re gonna keep playing no matter what happens,’ ” he said. “Momentum. Momentum. And Sterling, Sterling, Sterling.”