Walton had barely stepped into the Wildcats’ gymnasium before he felt – and heard – it.
“Yeah, as soon as you get into the building, folks start trash talking, and you can just feel the intensity before you even step on the floor,” he said.
Looking for their first win of the season after losing to Northern last week, the Tigers (1-1) had the last laugh with a resounding 75-59 win Friday night.
Chapel Hill sophomore forward David Caraher led four Tigers in double figures with 22 points plus with 14 rebounds.
“David has been our leader since Day One,” Caraher said. “He competes hard and he gets on the other guys, too. I’m real proud of him.”
Chapel Hill led from start to finish.
The Tigers jumped out to a 7-0 lead and led 20-15 after the first period despite 10 points from East Chapel Hill guard Carter Collins.
Forward Robert Wilson kept the Wildcats in the game by scoring their first seven points in the second quarter. East closed the gap to two before Chapel Hill reeled off eight straight points and eventually a 37-26-halftime lead behind Caraher and Jacob Thomas combined 22 points.
The second half was all Chapel Hill, as the Tigers were quicker to the ball and played with much more intensity before a packed gymnasium.
East managed to trim the lead to 11 after Wilson’s 3-pointer with 5:18 left, but that was as close as the Wildcats would get.
Thomas added 18 points, while Jeremy Werden and Brian Thornton added 12 and 10 points, respectively.
Walton said his new team is catching on to his coaching style.
“They have increased their intensity and being more aggressive on the court,” he said. “It takes hard work to get to the type of style I teach, and they are buying into the system.”
Wilson led East with 21 points, getting 10 in the fourth quarter.
Friday’s win by Chapel Hill marked the first time that the visiting team won in the rivalry game since CHHS came away from Wildcat Gym in 2011 with a 56-51 win. Chapel Hill’s margin of victory was its largest in the series since coach Tod Morgan’s team defeated East 62-41 at Tigers Gym in 2011.