Each game has become bigger and stakes higher. Chickasaw went into St. Luke’s with a chance to notch a win and complete one of its goals for the year. Sitting at 14-3, 3-0 and ranked #10 may be good enough in some places, but in Chickasaw it’s not. Thanks to leadership from a senior group that includes 8 players, this team seems to defy the odds and get better over time. With a sense of urgency the Chieftains jumped out early on the Wildcats, scoring 10 of the first 12 points in the contest. St. Luke’s was able to battle back and show some resolve, and from there, the battle for the Area Title was on. Chickasaw led 26-19 at the half as St. Luke’s refused to go away. Kendell Grimes led the way as he scored 12 of his team high 17 points on the first quarter alone. Chickasaw had quiet nights offensively by leading scorer Lashawn Williams and senior point guard Jonathan Nicholson as they combined for just 8 points. But the growth of this team night in and night out can be found in the supporting cast. Sparingly used senior Tracey Purifoy sparked a second half surge that saw him get to the FT line 3 times going 3-6. Tyler Cherie who has earned the starting role in the last 4 games thanks to his physical play and compusure scored 7, all in the second half, including back to back baskets in the later stages of the 4th quarter. 6’5 junior Cornius Griggs flashed his potential by being a presence on offense and defense in the lane and converted 3-4 FTs in the 4th quarter. Junior Ian Martinez went 2-2 from the line and scored two huge baskets in the 3rd and 4th quarters. Finally, the most consistent player thus far has been junior Deante Sanders who was 3-3 from the line and convert 3-7 FGs in the game. It was a tense game and the atmosphere had the making of post-season. The two are headed for a collision course in the Area Tournament to see who will host the sub-regional. The 52-45 final improved the Chieftains record to 15-3 (4-0) with the honor of hosting the Area 1 tournament.