The Raiders would play a neck-in-neck, heated game against the Mustangs, ultimately coming out on top 71-61.
“We’ve won (against Walker Valley) the last three seasons. We’ve had kind of the upper hand in the win column, but every game we play against them is really tough and they kind of push us,” Raider head coach Jason McCowan said.
The first period began on a positive note for the Mustangs, who were the first to register any points on the scoreboard and ended with the Mustangs leading 19-14.
“We had a great start to the game and I thought we had a great game plan going in,” Mustang head coach Bob Williams said of the first period of play.
The Raiders were able to go into the second period and not let the initial five-point deficit affect them negatively.
“We got into a hole, which I didn’t like, but we were able to climb back out of that hole and we really didn’t let it have a lingering effect,” McCowan admitted. “We kept them within arms’ reach to where we could catch them in the second quarter.”
The second period would end with the Raiders barely ahead of the Mustangs, 37-35. Despite their best efforts in the third period, the Mustangs defense could not hold back the Raiders.
“Our defensive effort there in the third quarter just gave up some easy baskets. In the first half I thought we did pretty good at that, then we were giving up second chance rebounds,” Williams stated of his team’s defensive play.
The third period ended with the Raiders ahead 49-43, with a chance for the trailing Mustangs to still take back their initial lead in the fourth period.
“We were playing in spurts and we need to take those spurts and lengthen those to where we’re playing better [for] longer periods of time,” McCowan said. ““Sometimes our athleticism is kind of an Achilles heel because we want to go after everything.”
Kendrick Thompson led the Raiders with 26 points, netting four 3-pointers in the game. DJ Jones and Anfernee Scott would chip in to the team’s total with 16 and 10 points respectively.
It was Tucker Godfrey who led the Mustangs with 22 points, followed by Austin Harwood with 12 points and Caio Hysinger with 11 points.
“The guys were ready to go. It boils down to Cleveland made plays when they needed to and we didn’t, simple as that.” Williams reflected. “I thought we played hard the whole game and I was proud of the effort. We’ve got to learn to make plays down the stretch when it’s crunch time and we didn’t do that tonight.”
Walker Valley will maintain their rivalry excitement when they play Bradley Central this Friday at Jim Smiddy Arena.
“We’ve got to play four quarters and we’ve got to make plays. They’ll be fired up and ready Friday,” Williams said.
McCowan is excited about the team’s win over the district rival and hopes to carry on the momentum to the next game in Rhea County.
“We’re just going to work on getting better and we’re going to work on that each day. We’ll prepare for them just like we do everybody else. We’ve just got to continue to focus.”
Lady Raiders 68
Lady Mustangs 39
The Lady Raiders were able to carry their success over Knoxville West into a win over district rivals Walker Valley.
“It’s a good crosstown rivalry game. These kids have all grown up together. It’s fun to get out and play well in front of the community,” Cleveland head coach Mindy Kiser said.
The Lady Raiders seemingly put the Lady Mustangs out to pasture with a final score of 68-39.
“I thought, top to bottom, even the kids that came in at the end were ready to play and they knew exactly what we were doing,” Kiser said of her team’s success. “Anytime you experience a little bit of success and things go your way, they feed off each other. Each game we’re able to get better and move forward.”
The first period ended with the Lady Mustangs only trailing the Lady Raiders 17-11.
“They work hard and play as hard as they can, but we’ve just got to do the small things to help us get better,” Walker Valley head coach Jessica Stone said.
The Lady Mustangs’ attempts to shorten the Lady Raiders lead would prove ineffective as they were only able to score six points during the second period.
“Defensively I saw some really good stuff tonight,” Kiser admitted.
Unable to come back from their deficit, the 7-10 Lady Mustangs seem to be a team that is struggling to find its place this year.
“We’ve had an up-and-down, kind of inconsistent year,” Stone said of her team. “Rebounding and taking care of the ball are two of the biggest things we need to work on.”
According to Kiser, the Lady Raiders saw some players really come through on the rebound.
“Atarah (Abdullah-Muhammad) had 18 rebounds and Shawnia (Anderson) had 13 rebounds; that’s big stuff.”
Qetuwrah Abdullah-Muhammad led the Lady Raiders with 20 points, followed by Nora Berry with 13 points, Shawnia Anderson with 12 points, and Atarah Abdullah-Muhammad with 10 points.
“All in all I thought it was a good defensive effort and we were able to put the ball in the hole a little bit tonight,” Kiser said of her team.
Scoring for the Lady Mustangs was led by Wendi Watson who tallied up 12 points, and Rebecca Beavers with six points.
The Lady Mustangs will have to shake off their loss according to Stone, as they play the other crosstown rival, the Bradley Bearettes on Friday.
“They can’t put their heads down. They’ve got to use this and learn from it,” Stone said. “I feel like we have a lot to prove and I feel like we can come back and rebound off this game and give Bradley a fight for sure.”
The Lady Raiders will travel to Rhea County for their game on Friday, and Kiser hopes their success will continue on.
“Rhea County thus far has had a really good season. Going to their place first, we’ve got to be ready to play … we’ve got our work cut out for us, no question.”
Walker Valley 11 6 15 7 — 39
Cleveland 17 16 15 20 — 68
LADY MUSTANGS (39) — Wendy Watson 12, Beavers 6, Perry 5, Macon 4, Pitner 3, Davis 3, Jones 2, Griffith 2, Mowery 2.
LADY RAIDERS (68) — Qetuwrah Abdullah-Muhammad 20, Nora Berry 13, Shawnia Anderson 12, Atarah Abdullah-Muhammad 10, Sydnie Anderson 9, McClendon 2, Ginestri 2, Scoggins.
3-point goals: Walker Valley 6 (Watson 2, Beavers 2, Pitner, Davis); Cleveland 3 (Berry 2, Sy. Anderson).
Records: Walker Valley 7-10, 2-3 District 5-AAA; Cleveland 11-4, 4-1 District 5-AAA.
Walker Valley 19 14 10 18 — 61
Cleveland 14 21 14 22 — 71
MUSTANGS (61) — Tucker Godfrey 22, Austin Harwood 12, Caio Hysinger 11, Brownfield 8, Cartwright 4, Conn 4, Melton, Crawford.
BLUE RAIDERS (71) — Kendrick Thompson 26, DJ Jones 16, Anfernee Scott 10, Bryant 7, Johnson 6, Ware, Brown.
3-point goals: Walker Valley none; Cleveland 7 (Thompson 4, Scott 2, Jones).
Records: Walker Valley 9-7, 1-4 District 5-AAA; Cleveland 10-6, 4-1 District 5-AAA.