Chelsea wins three straight out-of-state matchups at Athens Border War

Published 11:15 pm Tuesday, January 2, 2024

By ANDREW SIMONSON | Sports Editor

ATHENS – After a tough slate of matchups to open the season, the Chelsea Hornets now have all of the momentum in the world heading into area play thanks to a six-game win streak.

Fresh off a tournament title at the Husky Holiday Shootout in Helena, Chelsea won all three of its games at the Athens Border War invitational, defeating a trio of Tennessee teams in the Covington Chargers, Spring Hill Raiders and Whites Creek Cobras.

The Hornets kicked off their run in Athens with a 67-44 win over Covington on Wednesday, Dec. 27.

Chelsea came out of the gate firing on all cylinders as it went on a 21-0 in the first quarter. Christen Whetstone opened the game with seven first-quarter points and Avery Futch added six to complement a standout defensive performance by the Hornets.

The Chargers found their offense in the second quarter and scored 16 points, but Chelsea outscored them before halftime thanks to seven more points from Whetstone and five points from Gavin Collett off a pair of baskets.

The Hornets went into halftime with a commanding 39-16 lead that only grew after the break. Chelsea outscored Covington by six in the third as six different Hornets found the bottom of the net, which extended the lead to 57-28.

While the Chargers hit a trio of three-pointers to win the fourth quarter, Chelsea’s wide lead was enough to see out the 23-point win.

Whetstone led the way with 18 points, and Futch also hit double-figures with 12 points. Collett scored seven and Jonathan Loughlin and Braden Macon had six points each.

The next day, the Hornets kept rolling with another dominant win over Spring Hill.

Much like its first game of the tournament, Chelsea commanded the first quarter with a complete effort across the floor.

The Hornets led 21-2 at the end of the opening period as Futch set the tone with seven points and Collett made a solid statement with five first-quarter points.

Chelsea kept cruising in the second quarter as both Futch and Collett reached double-figures in for the half. Will Lee added four more points to extend the lead to 36-8 at halftime.

After the break, Spring Hill responded with its best quarter of the game, but Chelsea outpaced the Raiders with 17 points from six different scorers.

The Hornets took a 53-22 lead into the fourth quarter and cruised to a 60-31 victory to keep their win streak going.

Collett led all scorers with 16 points, including four three-pointers, Futch dropped 13 and Jaxon Shuttlesworth had six points in the win.

The Hornets used the momentum from their first two wins to close out the tournament by defeating Whites Creek in convincing fashion.

A 23-point opening quarter from Chelsea set the tone early on as Futch scored seven points in the first eight minutes and Aiden Owens had six off three baskets from the field.

That 23-11 lead helped the Hornets hold off the Cobras in a high-scoring second quarter. Chelsea outscored Whites Creek 20-19 in the second, led by Collett’s seven points.

After leading 43-30 at the halftime break, the Hornets pulled away in the third quarter to seal the win.

Futch scored eight of Chelsea’s 15 third-quarter points while the defense held the Cobras to just eight points.

That gave the Hornets a 20-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, and they added 14 more points in the final eight minutes to seal the 72-48 win and extend their win streak to six.

Futch dropped 22 points in a dominant showing, and Collett added 18 to keep his strong shooting stretch going. Owens scored 14 in the victory and Whetstone had eight points.