Bradford, Curry dynamic as Blue Raiders remain perfect in 5-AAA

By PATRICK MacCOON Banner Sports Writer
Posted 1/11/17

Collegedale — While Jason McCowan has a lot of coaching experience under his belt, Cleveland’s 10th-year head coach enjoys the fact his No. 7 ranked team can pull away in tough contests with …

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Bradford, Curry dynamic as Blue Raiders remain perfect in 5-AAA

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Collegedale — While Jason McCowan has a lot of coaching experience under his belt, Cleveland’s 10th-year head coach enjoys the fact his No. 7 ranked team can pull away in tough contests with plays he simply can not imitate in practice.

Rim-rocking, 6-foot-5 junior KK Curry took over with 19 of his game-high 28 points in the second half of a 79-70 road win for the Blue Raiders, now the only undefeated boys team left in District 5-AAA after its defeat of the East Hamilton Hurricanes Tuesday night.

With springs in his legs, Curry ignited the visiting fan base and brought his teammates up off the bench with loud screams after his back-to-back dunks to begin the fourth quarter gave Cleveland a 64-51 advantage and its first double-digit lead to take full control.

“When KK dunks it’s a big momentum play, because our bench gets excited and it reminds our guys we have some pretty good pieces right here,” McCowan said. “It’s nice to have some players who can play above the rim because they are doing stuff that I cannot even teach. Some of those emotion plays help you play a little harder even when you are tired.”

The district’s top scorer, who has scored over 28 points on six occasions this season, combined with another teammate for the top highlight reel play of the night and what he considers to be his third best dunk of the season.

On a fastbreak after his fourth steal of the contest, Curry handed the basketball off briefly to teammate Romeo Wykle who followed with a perfect touch on his left-handed pass off the backboard to assist Curry for a two-handed alley-oop jam. The momentum was never lost.

“When I passed it to Romeo I knew he was going off the glass and I was ready for it,” said Curry, who also had 11 rebounds despite 24 minutes of game action as he picked up three fouls in the first half. “We came together down the stretch and we knew it was over after we grabbed the momentum there. Coach told me not to worry, that the guys would get the ball in my hands.”

Although Cleveland (15-2, 5-0) was tied at halftime 36-all and only led 47-46 with 2:52 left in the third period after East Hamilton (12-5, 2-1) made technical free throws for a player accidentally running into a referee, Mullek Bradford closed the quarter in style.

The junior floor general was not only sharp with his passes and excellent in his decision making, which helped him tie a season best with 13 assists, but he shot 5-of-7 from the field and hit a leaning 18-foot jumper over defenders as the buzzer sounded for a 60-51 lead.

“Mullek makes great decisions and he hardly turns the ball over,” McCowan said. “If the guys are going to run the floor he is going to reward them and he also can hit some big shots. You can really tell that he has put a lot of work into it over the years and it makes it easier as me and our coaching staff to have a point guard playing so well as just a junior.”

Bradford was the second highest scorer for the Blue Raiders with 13, and helped key a strong offensive second half with the ball in his hands. He scored 10 points and had six assists from the 1:30 mark in the third until the end of the victory.

“I just try to take the best shots,” said Bradford, who landed his fourth double-double of the season. “If I am open I will shoot it, but usually I have people like KK on my team who will score 30 a game. I do whatever the defense gives me. There are some games I may have three points and double-digit assists. It just so happened today I had my shot going for me.”

Sophomore Dionte Ware scored six of his 12 points in the third quarter while junior Deontae Davis finished with nine points and five rebounds and Wykle added five points and three assists as a part of the starting lineup.

Freshman backup point guard Jacobi Wood and senior Kregg Ware made back-to-back 3-pointers in the final minute of the first quarter to help Cleveland to a 26-21 lead. Ware and Davis each made a pair of the Blue Raiders’ five 3-pointers.

East Hamilton never led in the second half after leading twice in the first half. Noah Fager and DaVae Hughley scored in double figures for the Hurricanes, with 14 and 11, respectively.

“I think they are the second-best team in the district,” Bradford said. “They are a great team and they are almost a lot like us. They are fast and have a lot of athletic guards who can jump high. We will get their best next time around, too.”

Cleveland will look to remain undefeated in district play when it travels to Walker Valley next Tuesday. The Blue Raiders are just three wins away from tying the win total the program has had over the past four seasons.

“We had not played since Dec. 30, so you could tell we were a little rusty to begin with,” McCowan said. “But it’s big for us to come on the road and get this big district win. Our goal is to qualify for the region. We are putting ourselves in a good position and we just have to continue to play tough on the road.”

LADY HURRICANES 48

LADY RAIDERS 46

Freshman standout Madison Hayes came away with the game-winning offensive putback with 3.1 seconds left and scored 20 points to help her East Hamilton squad remain undefeated in District 5-AAA play and spoil Tony Williams’ first trip back to his former school.

The late rally for the Lady Hurricanes (6-9, 3-0 5AAA), who trailed 43-34 at the end of the third quarter, dampened what was a strong night on the court for Cleveland’s Sofia Stamatiadis and Emma Flowers. It was the second straight loss for the Lady Raiders (8-9, 2-3) at the final buzzer, as they fell to Hunter Gremore’s team who also beat an 11-3 Baylor team Jan. 3.

From the 2:44 mark in the first quarter to the 2:31 left before halftime, a time frame of 8 minutes and 13 seconds, Stamatiadis scored 16 of the Lady Raiders’19 points and was 8-of-10 from the free-throw line.

The senior guard helped Cleveland lead 33-27 at halftime, as she scored 19 of her game-high 22 points.

“Sofia was just brilliant in the first half,” CHS head coach Tony Williams said. “I knew she was going to play well after the practice she had yesterday. She is very crafty and has a quick release and gets fouled since she always jumps towards the basket when she shoots. Typically, you feel very good about your chances to win when she is shooting a lot of free throws.”

Flowers picked up a double-double with 4:48 left in the third quarter and finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds (six offensive). She and Stamatiadis accounted for 80 percent of points scored by Cleveland.

“Emma is big, physical and she has good moves and footwork,” Williams said. “You can’t say enough about her progression this year. We are super excited to see where she goes as the season continues.”

Hayes capped a 7-0 run for the Lady Hurricanes with a clutch right corner 3-point jumper to only trail 45-44 with 4:53 remaining.

A Maleiah Moon jumper tied it at 46-all with 1:15 left. Cleveland only scored three points in the final quarter and its sixth turnover of the period with 13.8 seconds left allowed East Hamilton the winning possession.

Hayes also finished with seven rebounds and four steals to go along with her game-winning basket. The Lady Raiders were led in steals by a freshman as well with Bailey Anderson, who contributed four swipes and scored the last point for Cleveland with 3:07 left to play.

“When I coach basketball I build relationship with kids and it was really hard to work away after one year, but they all understood,” Williams said. “Those kids are all mature young ladies. They understood the reasons why I was leaving and coming to Cleveland.

“I told our kids in the locker room after the game, I wouldn’t change the decision for a million dollars. You’re the team that I am destined to coach and I want to coach and even though they beat you I wouldn’t trade it to go coach that group of girls over there.”

GAME SUMMARIES

BOYS

BLUE RAIDERS 79, HURRICANES 70

Cleveland26 10 24 19 — 79

East Hamilton21 15 15 19 — 70

BLUE RAIDERS (79) — KK Curry 28, Mullek Bradford 13, Dionte Ware 12, Davis 9, K. Ware 6, Wykle 5, Wood 3, Berry 3,

HURRICANES (70) — Justin Dozier 23, Noah Fager 14, DaVae Hughley 11, Montgomery 7, Wilson 7, Williams 6, Wingard 2.

3-point goals: Cleveland 5 (Davis 2, K. Ware 2, Wood); East Hamilton 4 (Fager 2, Wilson, Dozier).

Free throws: Cleveland 12-of-22; East Hamilton 17-of-23.

Records: Cleveland 15-2, 5-0 District 5-AAA; East Hamilton 12-5, 2-1 5-AAA

GIRLS

LADY HURRICANES 48, LADY RAIDERS 46

Cleveland18 15 10 3 — 46

East Hamilton14 13 7 14 — 48

LADY RAIDERS (46) — Sofia Stamatiadis 22, Emma Flowers 15, Morman 4, Anderson 3, Reed 2.

LADY HURRICANES (48) — Madison Hayes 20, Laccy 8, Moon 7, Laboo 6, Gray 5, Wood 2.

3-point goals: Cleveland 4 (Stamatiadis 4); East Hamilton 4 (Moon, Hayes, Gray, Lacy).

Free throws: Cleveland 10-of-15; East Hamilton 6-of-12.

Records: CHS 8-9, 2-3 5-AAA; EH6-9, 3-0 5-AAA.

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