The Lady Raiders jumped out to a quick lead, saw it disappear, then scored a dozen of the game’s final 14 points to pull out a 45-40 win.
Meanwhile in the nightcap, Coach Jason McCowan’s Blue Raiders put together their best offensive output of the season, including the second 35-point showcase from senior Kendrick Thompson in the last three games, to claim an easy 78-53 victory.
“I’m tickled to see the progress we’ve made since the start of the season,” proclaimed Coach McCowan as his team has won four of their last five outings.
“We are getting more comfortable with each other,” he added. “Kendrick is capable of big games like tonight. He and the rest of the guys are doing a good job of attacking on both ends of the court.”
“This was a good way to start the year and get ready for district play,” McCowan assessed.
While the Lady Raiders made a trip to the Southern Kentucky Showcase Saturday, both Cleveland teams will be back to District 5-AAA play Tuesday as county-rival Walker Valley comes calling.
With the closure of the Raider Dome, the local rivalry will be played at Walker Arena on the Lee University campus.
The Lady Raiders (7-4, 2-1 District 5-AAA) will tangle with the Lady Mustangs (10-4, 3-1) in a 6 p.m. tip-off, with the Raiders (5-5, 1-2) and Mustangs (8-6, 2-2) following.
Although they turned the ball over three times before being able to get off a shot Friday evening in Chattanooga, Coach Mindy Kiser’s Cleveland girls hit nine of their first dozen attempts to take a double-digit advantage late in the opening frame.
After back-to-back NBA-range 3-pointers by Grambling State (La.) University signee Nora Berry to begin the Lady Raider scoring, the visitors broke open a tied (8-8) game with a 10 straight points.
After leading 18-10 at the first buzzer, the Lady Raiders maintained their lead for more than half of the second period before the hosts closed the quarter with a 9-2 run to even the game at 24-all going into the intermission.
After hitting 10-of-19 shots from the field in the opening half, Cleveland couldn’t buy a bucket in the third period, making just 1-of-11 tries.
However, after Notre Dame (8-6) built a five-point advantage, the Lady Raiders fought back to trim the difference to a single point when junior Jenna Scoggins hit a jumper from the lane and added a pair of free throws.
Scoggins continued her streak of 10 straight points with a pair of thefts and fast break baskets to open the final frame.
After a trio of free throws by Berry gave Cleveland the lead once again with 4:18 remaining, the Lady Irish evened the score at 38-all when Taelor Hill hit a jumper from the top of the key for her team-high 13th point before fouling out 30 seconds later.
After a charity toss by Jamiyah Person put the Lady Raiders back in the lead, Notre Dame inched ahead when Morgan Cantrell swiped the ball and put in a fast break basket with 98 ticks on the clock.
Twenty seconds later, Scoggins sank a pair of foul shots after being hammered on a fast break attempt to give the visitors the lead for good. Hallea McClendon added a pair of free throws of her own, and Person put in a shot from the lane for the game’s final points.
Scoggins pumped in a game-high 20 points, copped five steals and cleared four rebounds in the victory, while Berry finished with 13 markers, five caroms and four thefts.
Cleveland claimed the battle for the boards by a 26-18 margin, with McClendon and Person leading the way with seven and six ricochets respectively, plus netting five points apiece.
The Lady Raiders hit 12-of-23 shots from in front of the 19-foot arc but were just 2-for-12 from beyond it.
Despite struggling some, Cleveland sealed the victory at the charity stripe, sinking 15-of-25.
Notre Dame made 15-of-36 field goals and turned the ball over 22 times, 14 of which came on Lady Raider steals. The Lady Irish were 9-for-14 from the foul line.
RAIDERS 78, IRISH 53
Cleveland burst out of the gate strong by netting the game’s first seven points, all of which came from Thompson, who ripped the cords for 23 first half points.
After the Irish won the opening tip and missed their first shot, Thompson opened the game’s scoring with an old fashioned three-point play on a drive down the lane.
After James McRee made a steal on the ensuing Irish possession, Thompson got the ball in the corner and drove the baseline for his second basket.
Once again the hosts were unable to get the ball downcourt as Colby Tatum swiped the ball and fed it to Thompson in the lane for another two points.
Notre Dame (4-10) was able to fight back to even the score at 10-all and 13-all before its only lead of the evening at 16-13 when Kealy Green got a “hoop and some harm” for a three-point play.
The Irish advantage was short-lived as Cleveland responded with 14 of the game’s next 16 points for a 27-18 edge at the first horn.
The Raiders kept up the pressure in the second frame, adding another half dozen points to their advantage to take a 46-31 lead into the locker rooms at the half.
Coach McCowan’s crew sizzled the nylon for eight of the first 10 points scored after the break and never looked back.
With the difference growing to as much as 27 points, the Raiders starters headed to the bench early in the fourth quarter as all 14 Cleveland players got into the game.
With a well-rounded performance, Thompson added eight rebounds, four steals, a pair of assists, plus he blocked two shots to go along with his career-high tying mark.
The 6-foot-1 shooting guard pumped in 35 points against Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett on Dec. 20. Thompson is now just 65 points shy of the 1,000-point mark for his Raider career.
Tatum sank a trio of 3-pointers on his way to 11 points, plus he copped three thefts.
Junior Isaiah Beaty came off the bench to clean the glass for a half dozen rebounds, plus he blocked a couple of Irish shots, while TyQuan Ware added seven points, including all four of his free throw attempts.
As a team, Cleveland nailed 19-of-34 (56 percent) from the two-point area and made 9-of-22 long-range shots. The Raiders were also 13-of-14 from the charity stripe.
Like the girls, the CHS boys had 14 steals among 22 Notre Dame turnovers.
Cleveland 18 6 7 14 — 45
Notre Dame 10 14 10 6 — 40
LADY RAIDERS (45) — Jenna Scoggins 20, Nora Berry 13, Person 5, McClendon 5, Crump 2, Ware.
LADY IRISH (40) — Taelor Hill 13, Morgan Cantrell 10, Ripper 8, Hoffer 5, Bouchard 2, Beaman 2, Wittler.
3-POINTERS: Cleveland 2 (Berry); ND 1 (Hill).
FREE THROWS: Cleveland 15-of-25; ND 9-of-14.
RECORDS: Cleveland 7-4; Notre Dame 8-6.
Cleveland 27 19 18 14 — 78
Notre Dame 18 13 13 9 — 53
BLUE RAIDERS (78) — Kendrick Thompson 35, Colby Tatum 11, T. Ware 7, Scott 6, Gibson 5, Vecchio 4, Brown 3, Dennard 3, Beaty 2, McRee 2, C. Ware, Bracero, Oliver, Munoz.
FIGHTING IRISH (53) — Tyler Byrd 19, Kealey Green 17, Harris 9, Orr 3, Flemister 2, Davis 2, Grannen 1, Ballard, Lewis, Westoff, Riddle.
3-POINTERS: Cleveland 9 (Tatum 3, Thompson 2, T. Ware, Brown, Dennard, Gibson); ND 2 (Byrd 2).
FREE THROWS: Cleveland 13-of-14; ND 16-of-25.
RECORDS: Cleveland 5-5; Notre Dame 4-10.