By PATRICK MacCOON
By PATRICK MacCOONSports WriterBehind the heroics of a sharpshooter and the most lopsided victory in series history, Cleveland swept hoops action in “The Stable” for the first time since 2011 …
By PATRICK MacCOON
Behind the heroics of a sharpshooter and the most lopsided victory in series history, Cleveland swept hoops action in “The Stable” for the first time since 2011 Tuesday night, in District 5-AAA action at Walker Valley High School.
Junior guard Madison Dasher caught fire for a career-high 25 points and connected on seven 3-pointers in the Lady Raiders’ 54-48 comeback win.
“Madison spends a lot of [practice] time on her own when nobody else is in the gym,” CHS head coach Tony Williams said. “She puts her headphones on and will get after it. She is not afraid of the moment, because she has that confidence. She has put the time in and I am really proud of her and all of our girls.”
Senior center Emma Flowers' 10 points and 13 rebounds also were pivotal in helping end a 10-game skid to the Lady Mustangs.
Meanwhile, the Blue Raiders saw 10 players find the scoring column in a 79-33 drubbing of a district rival who put them out of postseason contention last season during the region tournament at Raider Arena.
Cleveland’s only other 30-plus point win over Walker Valley came in a 85-47 victory back in 2003. It was also the team’s largest margin since topping Polk County 97-48 in the regular season opener last season.
“We came in here with the confidence that we would blow them out,” junior forward Dionte Ware said after scoring 21 points in just 18 minutes of play. “In our heads, Cleveland runs the city in hoops. In the summer, Coach showed us the list of how they ranked us second in the district. We took it to heart and are just playing the way we know how.”
The Blue Raiders (3-2, 2-0 5-AAA) have outscored their district competition by 70 points through two games, which includes a Mustang opponent who made it to sectionals last season and a state tournament advancer in East Hamilton.
Cleveland will return to action Friday on the road at Soddy-Daisy, while Walker Valley will host East Hamilton next Tuesday.
Dasher’s stupendous display from beyond the arc, which saw her go 7-of-9, included a 30-foot heave at the third-quarter buzzer for a 43-42 lead.
Her sixth trey gave the Lady Raiders (3-5, 1-1 5-AAA) their first lead since her first triple made for a 3-2 lead a minute into the action.
“Tonight was not just about me,” a humble Dasher said. “I feel like everybody came in knowing it was going to be a battle. We were ready to fight and came together as a team. This is a great win that we really needed.”
Walker Valley jumped out to a 27-10 lead with 3:47 left before halftime, as a fast tempo on both sides of the ball resulted in nine takeaways and nine early points for Lauren Lay and Macey Clark.
However, a 16-1 run for CHS going into the break was started by a Braylee Franklin left corner three while Sydni Callahan knocked down a triple and a pair of free throws in the final minute of the half.
The Lady Mustangs (3-3, 1-1) were assertive in the first four minutes of the second half, going on a 12-1 run as Clark’s fifth 3-pointer made for a 40-27 lead.
Clark led WV with 19 points, while Lay added 16. Starting point guard Abbey Davis missed the game with a leg injury.
“We were up big tonight at times and then we didn’t take care of the ball,” said WVHS head coach Paul Cretton. “We had 18 turnovers and relied on the three too much at times. We have to play smarter and get to the line more often. We will learn from this and find what we are made of.”
Freshman Lady Raider Kara Williams scored five points, while Dasher dropped 11 in the third quarter to help take the lead going into the final eight quarter.
“I had great looks from my teammates all night,” Dasher said. “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have been able to make many.”
Dasher’s seventh and final three came just 19 seconds into the final quarter, which was followed by Clark’s sixth long-range make to cut Cleveland’s lead to 46-45.
“It was fun going shot for shot with Madison,” Clark said. “There were so many people here to watch us play. It was just fun to go out there and compete.”
With a gritty performance down low, Flowers completed an "And-1" opportunity and then hit a turnaround jump shot to stretch the CHS lead to 51-45 with 4:35 remaining.
Sophomore point guard Bailey Anderson stepped up late as she drew a charge with the Lady Raiders up just 51-48 with 1:40 left. Anderson, who had four steals, also remained poised with a pair of free throw makes with 37.7 seconds left to go up by five.
Cleveland only allowed six points in the final eight minutes.
“I am tickled to death for our girls,” Williams said. “We have kids that come in and shoot every morning. Success is when preparation meets opportunity. I give our girls credit. They came out and made some big shots tonight.”
After Kolten Gibson’s driving layup brought Walker Valley’s deficit to seven with 6:11 left in the second quarter, Cleveland found its mark and would not let up.
Mullek Bradford drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key to begin a 45-12 stretch to run out to a 65-25 lead with 5:35 left in regulation.
Bradford scored 13 points and dished six assists in the win, while Ware broke the 20-point mark for the fourth time this season.
Cleveland 6-foot-7 center Josh Black impressed with six points and four rebounds off the bench, which included an up-and-under layup.
“It felt good to know we took full control defensively tonight,” Black said. “This team is very energetic and supportive of one another, and I love being a part of it. We work hard for this type of success.”
Bradford and Darius Howard drew charges on a night the Blue Raiders executed in all phases of the game, particularly defense, as they did not give up more more than nine points in any of the first three quarters.
Black plans to debut his custom shoe, which is a size 22, in the near future.
“I’m breaking in a pair of shoes that Shaquille O’Neal gave us,” Black said. “I’m thinking maybe next week or maybe the Bradley game I will wear them. As a freshman I was wearing a 16. My dad is around 6-foot-8 and my mom is 6-foot.”
Deontae Davis added 10 points and a pair of 3-pointers, while Grant Hurst, Romeo and Alex “Paco” Patterson each added a trey in the landslide victory just one night after hanging in with one of the state's best, Bearden.
"I have seen some glimpses of us being a really good basketball team," CHS head coach Jason McCowan said. "If we can bring the same intensity we will be fine. This is a fun group to coach. I love being a coach and teacher here at Cleveland High School."
Gibson led the Mustangs (1-5, 0-2) with 12 points.
LADY RAIDERS (54): Madison Dasher 25, Emma Flowers 10, Williams 5, Callahan 5, Franklin 5, Anderson 2, Douglass 1, Reed 1, Goodman, Langford.
LADY MUSTANGS (48): Macey Clark 19, Lauren Lay 16, Jones 4, Anderson 4, Harris 3, Fowler 2, Baker, Kyle.
3-Pointers: Cleveland 10 (Dasher 7, Williams, Franklin, Callahan); WV 8 (Clark 6, Lay, Harris)
Free throws: Cleveland 14-27; Walker Valley 3-12.
Records: Cleveland 3-5, 1-1 District 5-AAA. Walker Valley 3-3, 1-1 District 5-AAA.
BLUE RAIDERS (79): Dionte Ware 21, Mullek Bradford 13, Deontae Davis 10, Wykle 8, Black 6, Patterson 5, Wood 5, Hurst 5, Lay 3, Colbaugh 2, McGowan 1, Johnson, Howard.
MUSTANGS (33): Kolten Gibson 12, Duprey 4,Westfield 4, Bunton 3, Munck 3, Wallace 2, Valenzuela 2, Boone 2, Davis 1, Gibson, Pendegrass, Campbell, Cooper.
3-Pointers: Cleveland 6 (Davis 2, Hurst, Patterson, Bradford, Wykle); Walker Valley 1 (Gibson).
Free throws: Cleveland 15-25. Walker Valley 14-24.
Records: Cleveland 3-2, 2-0 District 5-AAA; Walker Valley 1-5, 0-2 District 5-AAA.
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