The disappearing version of the Lady Raiders (11-10, 6-5) lost to Ooltewah (5-16, 3-7) earlier in the season by one point. Friday, the now you see us rendition led by 12 after the first quarter, 26-7 at halftime and built a 23-point lead in the third before closing out the 56-38 District 5-AAA win over the Lady Owls.
On the other side of the coin, the Blue Raiders (14-6, 8-3) were able to take the wind out of the Owls’ (13-9, 8-3) sails after an eight-point victory at Ooltewah in mid-January.
However, Cleveland players were handed their first loss since Jan. 3 by the Owls Friday evening, and with that 10-point (67-57) loss, now find themselves tied with Ooltewah for second place in the district.
“I don’t know if it was a lack of concentration or fatigue, but it made a huge difference in our game Friday night,” Cleveland head coach Jason McCowan said. ”Defensively, we played well enough to win.”
Both the Owls and the Raiders have one final 5-AAA game coming up on Monday. Cleveland will travel to Walker Valley (17-9, 6-5), while Ooltewah will host Bradley Central (14-9, 10-1), who locked up a first place finish on Friday with their win over East Hamilton (6-20, 3-9).
“We’re locked in for a second or third place finish in the district, and there’s nothing we can do to change that. It’s time to get ready for the tournament now,” McCowan stated. “We’re going to go up to Walker Valley and enjoy the atmosphere and playing against a good team.”
Issues shooting the ball proved extremely problematic for Cleveland in their loss to Ooltewah, and, according to Coach McCowan, the Raiders shot their poorest percentage on free throws and layups of the season Friday night.
The Raiders left 13 points on the floor, making only 14 of their 27 attempted free throws.
It was the Owls who struck first Friday night, setting the tone for a first quarter that a majority of which consisted of the Raiders playing catch up in.
With just under two minutes left in the quarter and the game tied 8-all, TyQwon and Cantrel Ware each sank a 3-pointer to give Cleveland a leg up on Ooltewah.
A basket by the Owls’ high-scoring Ben Snider in the last 30 seconds cut the Raiders lead to four points, 14-10, as the first quarter came to a close.
Minutes into the second frame, Ooltewah tied things up at 18-all, which marked the beginning of a 13-point run that was broken up by Cleveland almost three minutes later.
The Raiders fought to cut down the Owls’ lead, but finished out the first half with only 12 more points added to the scoreboard, while the visitors finished with 22 points.
Trailing 32-26, Cleveland’s Kendrick Thompson got things going in the beginning of the third with a basket and free throw.
Unfortunately, scoring would once again prove problematic for the Raiders, as the Owls went on an three-minute, 11-point run.
“It was a tough night from the field. We got good looks, but just didn’t make the shots,” McCowan explained.
Cleveland was held to just 10 points to start off the second half, while Ooltewah surged ahead with 21 more points.
Things looked grim for the Raiders as they entered the final eight minutes trailing by 17 points.
The looming deficit was drastically cut by Cleveland though, who outscored Ooltewah 21-14 in that final quarter.
With just two and a half minutes remaining, the Owls lead was cut to just three points, 59-56, thanks to Thompson, Cantrel Ware, Jonathan Vecchio and Anfernee Scott.
Scott hit two big 3-pointers for the Raiders in the fourth quarter.
“Anfernee has to let the game come to him a little more,” McCowan commented. “When he let the game come to him, he’d make some really good plays.”
Despite Cleveland’s best efforts at staging a come-from-behind victory, Ooltewah was able to avenge their Jan. 14 loss.
Thompson led the Raiders with 19 points, with both Scott and Cantrel Ware finishing the game with 10 points.
Ooltewah’s Snider racked up 27 points in the game, with Jaymeal Johnson following with 19 points.
LADY RAIDERS 56
LADY OWLS 36
Improvement from the free-throw line and more makes on easy looks is imperative if Cleveland is to push beyond next week's district eliminations beginning Wednesday at East Hamilton.
The Lady Raiders drew 26 whistles in a 55-foul game and left 15 points on the floor from the free-throw line.
"And probably about another 14 on missed layups," added head coach Mindy Kiser, who also said even with the mistakes the Lady Raiders played Friday with more focus in the right direction than the previous two games. "We've had a couple games where it's late in the season and people have started to sniff some of the stuff out that we do."
Kiser said some adjustments in Friday's practice helped put some mystery back into the Cleveland attack against Ooltewah.
The Lady Raiders were led by senior Nora Berry with 19 points. Berry was honored between the boys and girls games with a ceremony commemorating her 1,000th career point.
Jenna Scoggins and Hallea McClendon added 11 each to the Cleveland total.
Ooltewah's India Corley led the Lady Owls with 18.
"We didn't shoot particularly well in the first quarter, but we kind of stayed in there," said Kiser. "Ooltewah was a little loose with the basketball, and we were able to go get it and capitalize on a few points early and kept that lead for the rest of the game."
If the rematch with the Lady Owls does come to fruition, Kiser is hopeful the Friday night edition of the Lady Raiders will be back.
"I would like to think we are the team that wins by 20 here. It looks like that's who we will play next week in the district tournament," said Kiser.
"Going into the playoffs we're hopefully going to hit another little stride. We've been a little flat the last couple of games. Tonight was good to finally come home again and play. I hope we continue to play a little bit harder."
LADY RAIDERS 46
LADY REBELS 33
The Cleveland girl picked up another win on Saturday when Knoxville West came to town.
Nora Berry led the charge for the Lady Raiders, racking up 20 points, while Bre Ware finished with 11 points in the 46-33 win.
At the half Cleveland was ahead of West by two points, 18-16.
The Lady Raiders’ put forth a strong offensive effort in the second half, racking up 13 points in the third and 15 points in the fourth.
RAIDERS 53, REBELS 34
The Raiders were able to make up for Friday’s loss with a win over their Knoxville rival Saturday night.
Kendrick Thompson helped ensure the Cleveland victory by racking up 25 points in the game.
The game got off to a slow start, with the Rebels outscoring the Raiders 6-3 in the first quarter.
Both teams came to life in the second quarter, as Cleveland scored 17 points to the West’s 15, to end the half trailing 21-20.
The Raiders’ defensive and offensive skills worked in their favor to open up the second half, and they managed to hold the Rebels to just six points while going on to score 18 points.
The final quarter was a much similar story, with Cleveland ending the game with 15 more points to West’s seven.
Ooltewah 2 5 14 17 — 38
Cleveland 14 12 14 16 — 56
LADY OWLS (36) — India Corley 18, Baker 9, Henderson 7, Reed 3, Cooper 1, Cain, Taylor, A. Jones, Hall, R. Jones.
LADY RAIDERS (56) — Nora Berry 19, Jenna Scoggins 11, Hallea McClendon 11, Person 5, Ware 4, Stamadiatis 2, Phillips 2, Buckner 2, Borton, Crump, Walkup.
3-point goals: Ooltewah 1 (Corley); Cleveland 3 (Berry).
Records: Ooltewah 5-16, 3-7 District 5-AAA; Cleveland 6-5 District 5-AAA.
Ooltewah 10 22 21 14 — 67
Cleveland 14 12 10 21 — 57
OWLS (67) — Ben Snider 27, Jaymeal Johnson 19, Jarek Boyd 7, Edward Montgomery 7, Ron King 5, CJ Fritz 2, Dajuonta Ross, Rashawn Freeman, Kolbe Jones.
BLUE RAIDERS (57) — Kendrick Thompson 19, Anfernee Scott 10, Cantrel Ware 10, TyQwon Ware 7, Jonathan Vecchio 6, Isaiah Beaty 5, Mason Brown, Jake Gibson.
3-point goals: Ooltewah 5 (Johnson 3, King, Snider); Cleveland 5 (Scott 2, Thompson, C. Ware, T. Ware).
Records: Ooltewah 13-9, 8-3 District 5-AAA; Cleveland 8-3 District 5-AAA.
Knox West 5 11 9 8 — 33
Cleveland 8 10 13 15 — 46
LADY REBELS (33) — Brianna Tate 23, Hundley 5, Blalark, Heslin, Palay, Adams, Hestin, Nelson Mason, Tyler.
LADY RAIDERS (46) — Nora Berry 20, Brew Ware 11, McClendon 6, Morman 6, Person 2, Scoggins, Stamatiadis, Buckner, Borton, Crump, Walkup, Phillips, Lee, Mastin, Thompson.
3-point goals: Knox West 4 (Tate 4); Cleveland 4 (Berry).
Records: Knox West 1-23; Cleveland 12-10.
Knox West 6 15 6 7 — 34
Cleveland 3 17 18 15 — 53
REBELS (34) — Peyton Lara 12, Shell 7, Bacon 6, Turner 6, Kraski 2, Jack 1, Kerr, Barris, Reynolds, Eggleston, Butler, Davis, Humphrey, Clark.
BLUE RAIDERS (53) — Kendrick Thompson 25, C. Ware 8, Scott 5, Beaty 4, T. Ware 3, Gibson 3, McRee 3, Brown 2, Tatum, Bracero, Vecchio, Dennard, Munoz, K. Ware, Goode.
3-point goals: Knox West 2 (Bacon); Cleveland 7 (Thompson 4, C. Ware 2, Scott).
Records: Knox West 7-18; Cleveland 15-6.