Both Cleveland teams pulled away in the fourth quarter.
The Lady Raiders received some late contributions from Sydnie Anderson and the steady scoring of Qetewrah Abdullah-Mohammed to turn back the Lady Cavaliers, 47-33.
The Raiders had to fight off a series of rallies from the Cavaliers early in the fourth quarter of the boys game, but owned the final four minutes for the 60-52 win.
The Cleveland teams will be on the road Friday, visiting archrival Walker Valley on the Mustangs’ floor.
Blue Raiders 60,
Coach Jason McCowan’s Raiders got rid of the bad taste of two close holiday losses in Knoxville with Tuesday’s win, and also added a new weapon to the Cleveland lineup.
Rondazz Mee, a recognized talent, made his debut with the Raiders after being suspended for the first half of the season. Mee provides additional depth and potential for coach McCowan, although the team’s performance was spotty in places with his insertion into the lineup.
“We’re going to have to figure out our (individual) roles,” McCowan said after the game. “We can now play more kids (which opens up possibilities for us).”
Mee collected 12 points in his first game of the year for the Raiders, but the big offensive weapon Tuesday was senior shooter B.J. Davis. Davis connected on six 3-pointers for 18 points to lead both teams in scoring.
“Cookeville is a very good basketball team,” McCowan said of his team’s first conquest of the new year. “I felt our rebounding over the final minutes, especially by Caleb Hiddleston, was a big key in the game.”
The Cleveland coach said two holiday losses at Knoxville Catholic were disappointing, although the Raiders were handicapped by some illness issues. Cleveland was beaten by Knoxville Powell, 50-48, and Knoxville Karns, 55-54. “It’s good to get back in the win column,” McCowan said as his team improved to 9-4.
Tuesday’s game was a tough battle, with the Raiders holding the upper hand most of the way.
Jarod Rhodes, who finished the night with 10 points, was a force on the boards in the early minutes. His played sparked Cleveland to a 7-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 18-11.
The Cavaliers, who have also had their difficulties on an 8-8 season, continued to make small runs at the leading Raiders. They trailed by nine at halftime, 31-22, but quickly got back in the game at the start of the third quarter.
Trey Henderson, who scored 16 points for the Cavaliers, scored the first basket of the second half to spark an early run. Chase Henry and Alex Dixon, who added 11 and 10 points respectively for the Cavaliers, joined Henderson in points as Cookeville cut the gap to 41-35.
The Cavaliers made another run early in the fourth quarter, getting as close as a single point at 46-45. Davis hit his final two 3-pointers and Mee hit a crucial 3-pointer from long range as the Raiders raced ahead by 12 points, 60-48, with 2:10 left in the game.
The Cavaliers scored the final two buckets as Cleveland was winding the clock down.
Lady Raiders 47,
Lady Cavaliers 33
Coach Rachel Moore was extremely pleased with the play of her girls for the start of the second half of the season, especially their defensive effort, which clinched the victory in the fourth quarter.
Tuesday’s battle was between two teams that are “probably” the youngest in the state. Cleveland has no seniors and only two juniors on a roster dominated by freshman talent. Cookeville has only six freshmen and three sophomores after several veterans left the team in a disagreement with coach Mindy Odom’s coaching philosophy.
With all of the young talent, the game remained close over the opening three quarters.
“It took us a little while to get our legs under us (after the holiday layoff),” said coach Moore after the game. The Lady Raiders did not participate in a holiday event this year.
“I am as pleased with our girls as I’ve been all season,” Moore said of her team’s performance. “It was our most complete game of the year. I just hope it’s a sign that we’re maturing.”
“I thought our decisions, from the first half on, were great,” continued coach Moore. “This is as good of a start to the second half of the season as we could hope for. Our emphasis this season has been our defense, and I thought it carried us tonight. It was a great team effort.”
Both teams began the game tentatively. There was moderate scoring in the first quarter with Cookeville pulling out to a 10-5 lead. Cleveland rallied in the second quarter to catch the Lady Cavaliers at halftime, 16-16.
The battle remained close through the third period. Qetewrah Abdullah-Mohammed, who paced the Lady Raiders in scoring with 21 points for game honors, worked her way underneath for two points to give the home team a 29-26 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Anderson came off the bench to hit a 3-pointer and two additional baskets over the final eight minutes for Cleveland as the Lady Raiders took control of the game. Still, it was Cleveland’s defensive effort which turned the tide in the home team’s favor.
LADY RAIDERS 47, LADY CAVALIERS 33
Cookeville 10 6 26 7 — 33
Bradley Central 5 11 13 18 — 47
Lady Cavaliers (33) —Collins, Webb 2, Sydney Robinson 9, Odom, Casal, Hannah Goolsby 17, White 5.
Lady Raiders (47) — A. Abdullah-Mohammed 5, Perkins 2, Qetewrah Abdullah-Mohammed 21, Langford, Capron, Berry 6, Sydnie Anderson 13.
3-pointers: Cookeville 1 (Goolsby). Cleveland 2 (Anderson 2).
Records: Cookesville 7-10; Cleveland 8-4.
BLUE RAIDERS 60, CAVALIERS 52
Cookeville 11 11 14 16 — 52
Cleveland 18 13 12 17 — 60
Cavaliers (52) — Chase Henry 11, Mills, Alex Dixon 10, Taylor 3, Pogue 2, Case 4, Roger 6.
Raiders (60) — Rutledge 7, Upton 2, Bowler 5, Jarod Rhodes 10, B.J. Davis 18, Hiddleston 2, Robinson 4, Rondazz Mee 12.
3-pointers: Cookeville 3 (Taylor, Roper 2; Cleveland 8 (B.J. Davis 6, Rutledge, Mee).
Records: Cookeville 8-8; Cleveland 9-4.