“We’re in a little bit of a transition, in terms of what team are we going to be. I don’t think we know what our identity is yet, but we’re going to figure that out real soon,” said Raider head coach Jason McCowan after seeing his squad score just three points in the final period of a 58-35 tally.
The two teams spent the first period fairly evenly matched, with the Raiders doing their best to stay focused on the team dynamics.
“First half I thought CJ (Bryant) was open to making some good passes and Dustin (Little) was really running the floor well. I thought we were playing very unselfish in the first half. I was very pleased,” McCowan said. “I was pleased in the first half with how well we were running and transitioning. We were handling our defensive assignments well.”
After much offensive and defensive jockeying in the second period, the Raiders were only trailing the Rebels 26-19 at the end of the half and a comeback still seemed to be a possibility.
“Being down only seven I wasn’t thrilled. I thought we were still in a striking distance where we could take the lead,”McCowan commented.
The second half would prove to be a comeback letdown as the Rebel defense seemed to have the Raiders’ number, slowing up their offense for the remainder of the game. Cleveland’s offense struggled to just a two-point field goal by Anfernee Scott, plus a Bryant free throw as the only points for the home team in the final eight minutes of play.
“We were very selfish offensively and that causes us to dribble too much,” McCowan assessed.
Saturday’s loss marks the Raiders biggest loss since a 68-40 loss at Greeneville back in December 2006.
Eight Rebels got into the scoring column with Ibrehim Teshome netting all 15 of his points in the first half, including a trio of 3-pointers. Yasmond Fenderson went 6-of-10 at the free throw line on his way to 14 points, while Nigel Bethel sank a pair of long-range bombs as part of his eight markers.
For the Raiders Bryant led the way with 12 points, while Kendrick Thompson and Little were both able to score nine points in the game.
Now 9-6 on the season, the Raiders first loss of the new year will be learned and moved on from according to coach McCowan as the boys prepare to take on their inter-county rivals Walker Valley at home on Tuesday night.
“The effort and the intensity will be there,” McCowan proclaimed.
REBELS 58, BLUE RAIDERS 35
Knox West 9 17 16 16 — 58
Cleveland 7 12 13 3 — 35
REBELS (58) — Ibrehim Teshome 15, Yasmond Fenderson 14, Bethel 8, Shell 7, Ferguson 4, Okita 3, Hall 2, Cook 2, Perkins, Kerr, Turner, Laura, Hoxie.
RAIDERS (35) — CJ Bryant 12, Thompson 9, Little 9, Beaty 2, Scott 2, Johnson 1, Jones, Constant, Brown, Ware.
3-point goals: West 6 (Teshome 3, Bethel 2, Hall); Cleveland 4 (Bryant 3, Thompson).
Free Throws: West 14-of-20; Cleveland 5-of-9
Records: West 7-7; Cleveland 9-6.