Raiders win 11th straight
by RICHARD ROBERTS Banner Sports Editor
Feb 05, 2014 | 859 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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CLEVELAND BLUE RAIDER Anfernee Scott goes up for two of his 10 points against McMinn County Tuesday night, in Athens. Scott and the Raiders won their 11th straight game with an 81-56 win over the Cherokees. Banner photo, RICHARD ROBERTS
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ATHENS — With their 11th win in a row tucked under their belts, the Cleveland Blue Raiders feel they are peaking at the right time as the district tournament draws closer.

The Raiders (13-5, 8-2 District 5-AAA) took control in the second quarter against McMinn County (2-20, 1-9 and breezed to an 81-56 win over the Cherokees in District 5-AAA basketball action.

It was just the opposite for the Lady Raiders who fell behind early and dropped a 57-41 decision to the Lady Cherokees.

Cleveland coach Jason McCowan felt if his Raiders could get out front they would be able to get into a comfortable rhythm the rest would take care of itself.

It took a quarter of basketball for Cleveland to find that rhythm, but when the Raiders overtook the Cherokees with a Jake Gibson 3-pointer in the second quarter, McCowan's theory played out the rest of the way.

"I knew McMinn has had a little trouble scoring and we did some things that were uncharacteristic on the road in a district game," he said. "I thought Jake did a good job of bringing us some energy in the first half. He made some really good defensive plays. It seemed like the ball was finding him in good spots and he just made the most of it."

Gibson scored 11 first-half points and finished with 13. Teammate Kendrick Thompson scored all 15 of his points in the first half and finished his triple-double night with 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Cantrel Ware and Anfernee Scott added 10 points each to the Cleveland win.

In all, an even dozen Blue Raiders put markers in the book for Cleveland.

"TyQuan had 24 Saturday and Jake chipped in with 13 tonight. We had a lot of kids score. Kendrick is going to get his points; he's a really good player for us. It's just a matter of who is going to be that next guy, and that's what we are looking for each night," said McCowan.

Gibson's second 3 with 4:43 left in the first half put the Raiders up 28-21. From there, Cleveland outscored the Cherokees 10-7 and led 38-28 at halftime.

Ware added a trey from the top of the key two minutes into the second half to put the Raiders out front 46-30. Colby Tatum added another 3 with just over a minute left to help cap a 20 point third quarter.

Enjoying a 17-point lead to start the fourth, Tatum put the finishing touches on his trio of treys with two more to put the Raiders out front by 23.

Kregg Ware added a final 3 in the closing seconds to give the Raiders their biggest lead of the night at 25 points to close out the 81-56 win.

"We're figuring out who we are and what role we are comfortable playing. I felt like with our lead we got a little big lackadaisical and didn't know who we were down the stretch. But anytime you win by 20 on the road, especially over here, you'll take it," said McCowan.

"We're happy with 11 in a row and move on to the next one and hopefully make it 12 in a row. We have a lot of games this week, but we all do. Heading toward district tournament next week we are excited about that and we're excited where we're at. We feel like we can stick our nose in there and get after it."



The McMinn County girls may not have a bag full of wins to show for a season's worth of basketball, but the seven wins earned by the Lady Cherokees (7-16, 7-3) have all been quality District 5-AAA victories.

The Cleveland Lady Raiders (10-10, 5-5) became McMinn County victim No. 7 Tuesday night after falling behind in the first quarter and failing to capitalize on several opportunities.

"We missed a lot of free throws in the first quarter. Those are gimmes," lamented Cleveland coach Mindy Kiser afterward. "We also missed seven layups in the first half as well as the free throws. Those are the free ones. Those are the points you have to go get. That was 12 points; we could have easily been tied at halftime."

The Lady Raiders failed to score in double figures in the first three quarters, falling behind by 22 points at the end of the third. Kiser's girls showed a brief sign of life at the beginning of third but again failed to follow up.

"In the third quarter there was a stretch where the first couple of calls went our way, then we decided not to go rebound. Then it was back to the free-throw line and when you are in somebody else's gym you can't put them on the free-throw line because they are going to make shots," said Kiser.

The Lady Cherokees led by 24 with just over three minutes left to play before settling for the 57-41 win.

"We didn't play well. We are in the same boat as McMinn as far as not playing as many games in very many days. McMinn played extremely hard tonight. We needed to be ready. We were there for a few minutes, then the whistles started blowing and we kind of lost our direction," said Kiser.

"Give credit to McMinn County. They played hard and did what they had to do to win the ballgame. I didn't think we guarded particularly well this time.”


Cleveland 8 9 6 18 — 41

McMinn County 13 17 15 12 — 57

Cleveland (41) — Berry 9, Scoggins 9, Ware 7, Morman 7, Person 5, Stamatiadis 3, McClendon 1, Buckner, Crump, Walkup, Phillips.

McMinn County (57) — Keke Smith 19, Rachel Simbeck 14, Ebony Kelley 14, Dispensa 3, Thompson 3, Wilson 2, Robinson 1, Cornett, Burke, Bryant.

3-point goals: McMinn County 1 (Smith).

Records: Cleveland 10-10, 5-5 District 5-AAA; McMinn County 7-16, 7-3.


Cleveland 13 25 20 23 — 81

McMinn County 16 12 13 15 — 56

Cleveland (81) — Kendrick Thompson 15, Jake Gibson 13, Anfernee Scott 10, Cantrel Ware 10, Tatum 9, McRee 6, K. Ware 5, Dennard 4, T. Ware 3, Beaty 2, Vecchio 2, Goode 2, Brown, Bracero, Muniz.

McMinn County (56) — Rob Saxton 11, Armstrong 9, Marshall 6, Hammonds 4, Martin 4, Edgemon 4, Spradling 4, Brown 4, Lawson 4, Collins 2, Simpson 2, Hockman 2,

3-point goals: Cleveland 5 (Tatum 3, Gibson 2); McMinn County 2 (Saxton, Armstrong).

Records: Cleveland 13-5, 8-2 District 5-AAA; McMinn County 2-20; 1-9.