EVENSVILLE — Rhea County proved a challenge for the Cleveland High basketball squads, as both the Lady Raiders and Raiders would have to fight tooth-and-nail to add another game to their win columns.
Friday evening began with the Lady Raiders squaring off with the Lady Eagles in a game that can best be described as tedious. Cleveland managed to pull off the win, defeating the hosts 29-28.
“A win’s a win, and you’ve got to do what you got to do. Sometimes it’s ugly. Sometimes it’s pretty, but we did what we had to do tonight to get a win,” Lady Raider head coach Mindy Kiser said.
Shawnia Anderson put the Lady Raiders on the board first and also registered the only other basket made during the first period. With just under two minutes left, the Lady Eagles managed to get on the board, continuing on to tie up the game with just 40 seconds left in the first.
The second period began with a 4-4 tie, but soon the Lady Eagles took the lead.
“This is a tough place to play. Rhea County has had a great year. They finished strong last year. They started strong this year,” Kiser said of the Lady Eagles. “They packed it into that zone … we had a little bit of trouble.”
With three minutes remaining in the opening half, the Lady Raiders were trailing 11-6, but then scored the final five points to even the score at the intermission.
The second half started out on a negative note, with no points being registered by either team for the first three and a half minutes until Sydnie Anderson managed a two-point shot. Atarah Abdullah-Muhammad would make the only other Lady Raider basket with two minutes on the clock.
A minute later Rhea finally got on the board when Julie Brown drilled a 3-point shot for their lone basket of the frame, decreasing the Lady Raiders lead to only one point by (15-14) the end of third period.
The teams finally got a little offense going in the final period as the Lady Raiders came within a point of their previous three-period total and led 29-25 before Rhea’s Amber Levi managed to get a 3-pointer in the last seconds of the game, bringing the final score to 29-28.
According to coach Kiser, every Lady Raider that went into the ball game was a contributor Friday night.
“Qetuwrah (Abdullah-Muhammad) was rebounding. Atarah’s (Abdullah-Muhammad) playing great defense. Sydnie (Anderson) was kind of running things on offense a little bit. Shawnia (Anderson) had a good game, got in a little bit of foul trouble, but she got some good looks inside,” said Kiser.
Leading the Lady Raiders in points was senior Sydnie Anderson with 13 and freshman Shawnia Anderson with seven.
The Lady Eagles were carried by Brown with 11 points and Levi with 10.
The Lady Raiders will hope to carry on their winning momentum when crosstown rivals and fifth-ranked Bradley Central comes to the Raider Dome Tuesday night.
“We’ve got a lot of stuff that we need to work on. Bradley is a very good team. They give us a totally different look then anyone else we play with two big post players,” Kiser said of Tuesday’s rivalry matchup. “We’re going to need everybody to play well in order to hopefully win.”
BLUE RAIDERS 56
GOLDEN EAGLES 49
Friday night saw another hard fought victory for the Cleveland High Blue Raiders
Building a strong double-digit halftime advantage, the Raiders weathered a Rhea rally in the third period before finishing strong for the 56-49 win.
“They’re (Rhea) going to play hard. They don’t care what their record is. They’ve had a lot of close games and that doesn’t deter them,” Cleveland head coach Jason McCowan said of the team he once coached.
The game started out on the slow side with only 10 points tallied by the Raiders and six points by the Eagles in the first period.
The Raiders would add 17 points in the second period, with the Eagles adding 10 points, ending the second period 27-16.
“I give Rhea County credit because they kept battling and kept playing hard,” McCowan said.
Both teams continued the battle into the third, with senior Jahmal Johnson providing some excitement as he rattled the rim with an impressive dunk.
Cleveland extended its lead to 33-18 during the first minutes of the third but the Eagles came screeching back to trim the deficit to only three points (40-37) as the third period ended.
“I felt like when we got the dunk we let up. We were playing really hard, we got the dunk, we went up 15 and I felt like we just kind of relaxed. We preached all week to them that you can’t let up, they never go away,” McCowan said of his teams defensive efforts in the second half of the game. “I was very happy with our defensive effort except for after the dunk and then the start to the fourth quarter.”
The Eagles continued their rally at the start of the final frame, even taking their first lead of the game.
Coach McCowan would make a few changes to his team’s defensive assignments, which would ultimately pan out in the Raiders favor.
“In the fourth quarter we switched CJ (Bryant) on to No. 4 (Jalen Smith) and he did a really good job on him … it got us back to where we were getting tough stops and were finishing on this end, so it kind of got us back in rhythm,” the coach explained.
Cleveland would retake the lead with 4:33 to go and would stall all Eagle efforts to make another comeback.
“We try to get better defensively each and every day and I feel like we’re getting better. We didn’t have to coach effort at all tonight,” McCowan said on his team’s effort.
Kendrick Thompson led the Raiders with 17 points, including four 3-pointers.
Johnson and Bryant were able to add another 12 and 10 points respectively.
Smith led the Eagles with 21 points, followed by Nick McWherter with 16 points.
The Raiders will be back in action on Tuesday night as they host their cross-town rivals from Bradley Central, in the Raider Dome.
According to McCowan, the matchup should prove to be exciting.
“We’re going to play hard defensively but keep our composure and go and play a great rivalry game. I always enjoy the crowd and enjoy the rivalry, the kids will be excited and looking forward to it.”
LADY RAIDERS 29, LADY EAGLES 28
Cleveland 4 7 4 14 — 29
Rhea County 4 7 3 14 — 28
Cleveland (29) — Nora Berry 2, Anna Ginestri 2, Atarah Abdullah-Muhammad 2, Qetuwrah Abdullah-Muhammad 3, Sydnie Anderson 13, Shawnia Anderson 7.
Rhea County (28) — Shelby Thurman 2, Julie Brown 11, Whitney Thompson 5, Amber Levi 10, Revis, Worden, Freeman, Miles, Wallace.
3-point goals: Cleveland 2 (Sydnie Anderson 2); Rhea County 2 (Brown, Levi).
Records: Cleveland 12-4, 5-1 District 5-AAA; Rhea County 14-5, 3-3.
RAIDERS 56, EAGLES 49
Cleveland 10 17 13 16 — 56
Rhea County 6 10 21 12 — 49
Cleveland (56) — CJ Bryant 10, Kendrick Thompson 17, Anfernee Scott 5, Mason Brown 8, Jahmal Johnson 12, DJ Jones 4, Ware, Beaty.
Rhea County (50) — Garrett Hill 1, Jalen Smith 21, Demetrius Patterson 8, Nick McWherter 16, Taylor Jenkins 3, Harrison, Paul, Hunter, Downey.
3-point goals: Cleveland 6 (Thompson 4, Bryant, Scott); Rhea County 2 (Patterson 2).
Records: Cleveland 11-6, 5-1 District 5-AAA; Rhea County 5-12, 1-5.