Cleveland’s defense shut out the Rhea County girls for the first four minutes of the game, Nora Berry hit two 3-pointers and the Lady Raiders raced ahead 13-0 before Rhea County could put numbers on the scoreboard.
Sarah Nixon ended the drought with two free throws and Alex Hughey hit a 3-pointer from the corner for all of the Lady Eagles’ points in the opening quarter.
High-scoring Qetuwrah Abdullah-Mohammad settled into her consistent point production with a pair of layups, Berry hit a third 3-pointer, Marissa Langford added a fourth long shot from behind the circle and Cleveland enjoyed a healthy 21-5 lead after the opening eight minutes.
Cleveland improved its 2010-11 record to 13-11, while Rhea County ended its year at 10-14.
The Rhea County girls played the host Lady Raiders fairly even the rest of the way, but the damage had been done.
“We played well with a good, tough defense,” said coach Moore after the game. “Most nights we’re as good as our defense let’s us be.”
“The beauty of tournament play is that you get to go back to zero and utilized all that you’ve learned through the season,” Moore continued. “At this point in the season, all you want to do is win. But, you also want to play well.”
Wednesday’s win ended the Lady Eagles’ season, advancing the Lady Raiders to a second-round tournament game at 2 p.m. Saturday against top-seeded Walker Valley (23-1) at Rhea County High School.
The Lady Mustangs were unbeaten in their 12 5-AAA games this season, but the Lady Raiders gave them a tussle in a recent game at Cleveland.
Qetuwrah Mohammad earned scoring honors for Cleveland in Wednesday’s game by putting 17 points through the hoop. Berry also reached double figures with 11, getting nine on her trio of 3-pointers in the opening quarter.
Atarah Abdullah-Mohammad, Qetuwrah’s sister, scored 10 points for the Lady Raiders with some nifty moves to the basket in the second half.
Alex Hughey topped the Lady Eagles in scoring with 10 points, getting six on two 3-pointers. Morgan Allen was next for the visitors with six points.
Following Cleveland’s early outburst and 16-point lead at the quarter, the score swayed back and forth between 12 and 20 points.
As productive as the Lady Raiders were in the first quarter, they were relatively non-productive in the second period with only seven points. The home team led by 13 at halftime, 28-15.
Another big quarter and 16 points in the third had Cleveland on top by 20, 44-24.
Both coaches sent reserves into the game early in the fourth quarter as Cleveland cruised to the 17-point win.
LADY RAIDERS 50, LADY EAGLES 33
Rhea County 5 10 9 9 — 33
Cleveland 22 1 7 16 6 — 50
Lady Eagles (33) — Brown 12, Miles 3, Alex Hughey 10, Keener, Hickey, Walker 2, Nixon 4, Allen 6, Thompson 3, Matthews, Gentry 3, Loden.
Lady Raiders (50) — Atarah Abdullah-Mohammad 10, Perkins 3, Qetuwrah Abdullah-Mohammad 17, Langford 3, Capron, Nora Berry 11, Anderson 6, Barber, Courtney, Brown.
3-point goals: Rhea County 3 (Hughey 2, Gentry); Cleveland 5 (Berry 3, Langford, Anderson).
Records: Rhea County 10-14; Cleveland 13-11.