The Lady Raiders (15-7) used free throws to build a first half lead and followed up with a solid defensive effort in the third quarter to open the night with a 47-29 win over the Lady Hawks.
Hamilton Heights took the floor with a vengeance in the second game of the night running up a 19-2 lead over the Blue Raiders. Austin Herink scored the lone basket that kept Cleveland from being shut out in the first quarter.
Cleveland (13-9) quickly came around in the beginning of the second quarter and the shots that did not fall in the first found the bottom of the net in the second. D.J. Bowles and C.J. Bryant hit back to back 3-pointers and Jarod Rhodes added two more to cut a 19-point Hawks lead to seven. Kendrick Thompson combined with Bryant for back-to-back 3s late in the half to make it a five-point game before Hamilton tossed in a 3 to take a 33-25 lead into the halftime break.
“We dug ourselves a huge whole. I think we played really hard, played pretty well and got them tired,” said Cleveland coach Jason McCowan. But, in the fourth quarter we went back to the same mentality we had in the first.”
Thompson led the Blue Raiders with 18 points, all from behind the arc. Bowles and Jarod Rhodes broke into double figures with 13 apiece.
Cleveland continued its comeback in the second half, catching the Hawks to tie the game at 33-33 and again at 37-37. Hamilton settled down to take the lead back and ended the third quarter with a 47-44 advantage.
“We got up five and we went right back to our first quarter mentality,” said McCowan. “We got up, we relaxed, we were up five, we’re good. We’re OK. We quit playing defensively. We quit doing the things that got us to that point. We relaxed on some shots that were falling in the second and third quarter that weren’t very good looks in the fourth quarter.”
Cleveland took its first lead of the game, 49-47, on a 3 by Thompson. Bowles made it a 5-point game seconds later with another 3-pointer seconds later. The Hawks tied the game again, 54-54 midway through the quarter and took a 58-56 lead with 2:40 left to play. Rhodes tied it and gave the Raiders the lead on a foul-plus-one with 2:10 on the clock. The 3-point play would be the last points of the game for Cleveland. Hamilton score again with 90 seconds to go and held the Blue Raiders scoreless to close out the win.
“I felt like the looks we were taking late in the fourth were the same looks we were taking in the first quarter. That first and fourth quarters kind of mirrored each other, sandwiched by second and third quarters that were pretty solid. You outscore them every quarter but the first and you lose. We’re not figuring out how to win games. We are figuring out how to lose games,” said a disappointed McCowan.
The coach went on to say it was not so much the size advantage of Hamilton Heights that hurt the Blue Raiders, but the reaction to missed shots by the Hawks.
“It was more their high-low set that got us. The thing I felt ... hurt us the most on their size was when they would shoot it. They weren’t making the first shot. They were almost playing volleyball with it. We just turned around, stood and watched. Instead of making them shoot over the top of us and realizing they are probably going to miss it and boxing them out, we just stood and watched,” lamented McCowan. “Three or four possessions late, they just kind of turned and threw it up against the backboard. We stood and watched, they got it and put it right back up and in. That is just undisciplined basketball.”
LADY RAIDERS 47,
LADY HAWKS 29
The Lady Raiders took advantage of opportunities from the free-throw line in the second quarter to break away from the Lady Hawks and cruise to a relatively easy win in the night’s opener.
Cleveland hit 9-of-11 free throws to build a 9-5 first-quarter lead to a 24-12 halftime advantage in a game that saw a depleted Hamilton Heights roster drop to only four fourth-quarter players.
Qeturah Abdullah-Muhammad came off the bench to score seven first-half points and was the only Lady Raider to reach double figures with 12.
“This was one of those games where we talked about we were going to have to create our own energy. We knew that right away. It was a good opportunity for us to get some people in at spots we haven’t been able to work on and play with a comfortable lead,” said Lady Raiders coach Mindy Kiser.
Cleveland kept up the pace from the line in the third to make good on 4-of-6 tosses while holding the Lady Hawks to only two points. Abdullah-Muhammad and Sydnie Anderson added two apiece to give Cleveland a 32-14 lead after three quarters.
“We did step to the line and make free throws tonight. We also did a good job against their zone finding gaps and adjusting when they went to man,” Kiser said
The Lady Raiders went back on the offensive in the fourth quarter piling in 15 more against a Hamilton Heights team that ended the night with four players on the floor after having two on a roster of six leave the game with five fouls.
Kiser took the opportunity to give her nonstarters some playing time.
“I’m not sure what happened (with the Hamilton lineup). They had nine players last time. But they only went about six or seven deep. I’m not sure what is going on. It was a little bit different lineup and a different look for them,” Kiser surmised. “For us, it was kind of the same (lineup). We wanted to make sure we executed the things we worked on.”
LADY RAIDERS 47, LADY HAWKS 29
Hamilton Heights 5 7 2 15 — 29
Cleveland 9 15 8 15 — 47
Hamilton Heights (29) — Holly Zovca 10, Simoes 8, Madzarevic 3, Zurauskaite 8, Reiner, Savicskaite.
Cleveland (47) — Qeturah Abdullah-Muhammad 12, Berry 9, Anderson 8, A. Abdullah-Muhammad 6, Scoggins 5, Walkup 3, Crump 2, Person 2, Ware, Perkins, Capron, Phillips, McClendon.
3-point goals: Hamilton heights 1 (Simoes); Cleveland 4 (Berry 2, Scoggins, Walkup).
Records: Cleveland 15-7.
HAWKS 60, BLUE RAIDERS 59
Hamilton Heights 19 14 14 13 — 60
Cleveland 2 23 19 15 — 59
Hamilton Heights (60) — Rokas Paulauskas 22, Filipe Goncalves 21, Njegovanovic 7, Todric 2, Monteiro 8, Baskette, Reno..
Cleveland (59) — Kendrick Thompson 18, Jarod Rhodes 13, D.J. Bowles 13, Herink 8, Robinson 4, Bryant 3, Ware, Jones, Rhodes. Hudson.
3-point goals: Hamilton Heights 6 (Goncalves 4, Njegovanovic, Monteiro); Cleveland 10 (Thompson 6, Bowles 3, Bryant).
Records: Cleveland 13-9.