KNOXVILLE — After an emotional victory over Ooltewah Thursday night to claim the District 5-AAA regular season championship, Cleveland’s Rowdy Raiders had to travel to Knoxville Friday to face an extremely tough state-ranked West team.
“After a game like tonight (Thursday) all we can do tomorrow is go up there and have fun,” Raider head coach Jason McCowan said of the prospect of facing the eighth-ranked Class AAA team. “We were in a similar situation last year, but since we already have the district wrapped up that takes the pressure off.”
To make matters worse for the Raiders, West was coming off just its third defeat in 26 games this season, having fallen to Fulton Tuesday night. Its only other two losses this season came by a total of six points to top-ranked Bearden.
The Rebels used an early surge Friday night to give them the main difference in a 71-62 win over the Raiders, while the ninth-ranked West girls had little trouble in a 47-26 victory over the young Lady Raiders.
West outscored the Raiders 16-10 in the opening eight minutes and then by just a point in each of the final three frames for the nine-point victory.
Cleveland drained 10 3-pointers in the contest, with senior B.J. Davis connecting on five as he netted 17 points. D.J. Bowles led the Raider offense with 21 points, including a trio of treys, while Jared Rhodes netted nine points.
The Rebels connected on four long-range shots with game-high scorer Phillip Stafford ripping the nylon for three on his way to 22 points.
JaJuan Williams collected a dozen points and JayJuan Mitchell 11 for West.
Both Cleveland teams will now prepare for the District 5-AAA Tournament this week. The top-seeded Raiders (16-7) don’t play until Saturday’s semifinals against the winner of the McMinn County/Rhea County opening round contest.
The Lady Raiders (12-11) will host Rhea County Wednesday evening in a first round contest at the Raider Dome (see related story, page 17).
Cleveland 10 16 15 21 — 62
Knox West 16 17 16 22 — 71
Raiders (62) — D.J. Bowles 21, B.J. Davis 17, Rhodes 9, Rutledge 7, Mee 6, Hiddleson 2, Robinson, Upton.
Rebels (71) — Phillip Stafford 22, JaJuan Williams 12, JayJuan Mitchell 11, Brooks 9, Walker 7, Littlejohn 5, Golden 2, Robinson 2.
3-pointers: Ooltewah 5 (Jackson 3, Johnson 2); Cleveland 5 (Davis 3, Bowles, Mee).
Records: Cleveland 16-7; West 23-3.