Crosstown rivals, Lake Forest and Ocoee middle schools met on the southeast side of the county Monday night before a huge crowd, and when the final horn sounded each school walked away with a two-point win.
While the Lady Bruins of Lake Forest hung on for a 37-35 victory, the outcome was reversed in the boys’ encounter, with the Ocoee Middle Colts claiming a 42-40 win.
Both schools will be back in action on Thursday with the Lake Forest squads hosting Dalton (Ga.) in their final regular season game as they celebrate the middle school careers of their eighth-grade players.
Ocoee Middle will be on the road to Boyd-Buchanan before returning for its Eighth-Grade Night next Monday, as they host Rhea County. They’ll close out the regular season at Cleveland Middle on Jan. 23.
The Lady Bruins were paced by a couple of underclassmen as sixth-grader Kimora Fields led them in scoring with 13, while seventh-grader Avary Brewer tossed in 11.
Brewer had ice-water in her veins when she scored the final four Lady Bruin points at the free throw line, including the game winners with 3.4 seconds on the scoreboard as Lake Forest completed a season sweep of the Lady Colts.
Abby White and Abella Mullins picked up five points apiece, with Callie Brewer scoring four for the Lady Bruins.
Two Lady Colts notched double-figure scoring with Madison Bischoff scoring 13, including three from long distance, while Grace Phillips added 10.
Ashlyn Pierce accounted for eight points, Erin Sisson three and Sloan Watson added a single point to the Lady Colt totals.
Lady Bruin coach Zandra Morris was pleased with the nail-biting girls’ game.
“I changed the way we practiced shooting free throws during the season and it showed up big tonight. But I thought our switch in defense during the game was the key to our win,” she commented.
The Lady Bruins shot 14-of-15 at the free throw line, with Fields sinking 7-of-8 and Brewer making a perfect on her six attempts.
The boys game looked like it would be a runaway as the Colts jumped out to a 21-6 halftime lead before the Bruins came clawing back in the second half, with D’Anthony Reid and Damarius Ballard collecting 13 of the Bruins' 18 points in the third period. However, key free-throw shooting by Nyziah Whaley and Cash Coates in the fourth period held the Bruins at bay.
Whaley and Coates together scored nine of the Colts' 11 fourth-quarter points at the free-throw line to hold off a relentless Lake Forest team. The nine made free-throws in the fourth were the only ones the Colts could muster throughout the game, as they made a very cool 9-of-23 attempts.
The Bruins made 6-of-7 themselves in the fourth period and 16-of-27 for the game to keep the game close in the second half.
Whaley led the Colts with 17 markers, with Coates adding nine, Marcus Goree five, Sam Taylor four and Caleb Sausville three. Alex Walker and Eli Wallace closed out the scoring with two points each for the Colts.
Three different Bruins scored 11 points each with Jackson Wilson, Reid and Ballard leading the way. Luke Keith added three points with brothers, A.J. and Rodney Williams scoring two apiece for the Bruins.