They were games with substantial District 5-AAA implications as the Cleveland Raiders played host to the Ooltewah Owls Friday night.
Cleveland’s Lady Raiders found their stride and played four quarters of solid basketball to walk away with a 49-39 victory over the Lady Owls and a second seed in the upcoming district tournament.
The boys matchup would help determine the fate of the top three seeds in the district, with Ooltewah, Bradley Central and Cleveland all vying for the top spot in district play.
However, the Raiders were unable to pull out a win despite a late game charge. They fell to the Owls 61-57 and found themselves sitting with the third seed.
Lady Raiders 49,
Lady Owls 39
A long basketball season is starting to come to a climax and it showed some early as the Cleveland Lady Raiders faced off against the Ooltewah Lady Owls in the Raider Dome.
“We started out a little flat tonight. The gym felt a little dead. We just tried hard to create our own energy and get a feel for them; eventually shots started to fall,” explained Lady Raider head coach Mindy Kiser.
To start play, the Lady Owls went on a 10-2 run and looked to be having no problem with momentum of their own.
Cleveland’s girls answered back, scoring 15 points in the second quarter thanks to aggressive offensive penetration and key shot taking that helped the Lady Raiders grab a 22-18 lead going into the half.
When play resumed Ooltewah’s girls did their best to answer, gaining offensive momentum late in the third period and drawing the game into a 31-31 tie to start the last period.
In a statement move, Cleveland answered the Lady Owls’ offensive surge by starting the final quarter with a Nora Berry 3-point dagger.
“When you manage to hit those 3s, especially at such a critical time, it really gets your juices flowing. On top of that we pulled a team out of a zone defense tonight and that was good to see. That’s the kind of progress we are making as this season has gone on,” Kiser stated.
“This was really a great team effort. Nora found her spot tonight. Jenna, Atarah and Sydnie were all gaining penetration and kicking out when they drew the defense. It was a complete team effort. Jordan Capron had an outstanding game for us tonight. She defended well and had some big buckets for us at some crucial times.”
It was a strong finish for Cleveland as they mustered an offensive barrage to put the game out of reach and secure their second seed finish with a 49-39 victory.
“That was a good one for us. We clinched second place in the district. We were the preseason No. 2 pick so it was nice to follow through with those expectations. Our kids have really bought in and we are playing hard and playing with a purpose. I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Kiser said.
Lady Raider scoring was led by Berry who netted 14, including four 3-pointers, in the win.
Owls 61, Raiders 57
It was a heartbreaker in the boys’ matchup as the Cleveland Raiders battled against the Ooltewah Owls for a potential No. 1 seed in the upcoming district tournament.
A slow start was in the cards for the Raiders as they struggled to find any kind of offensive rhythm and ran into an Owl defense that took flight, batting shots out of the air with disturbing frequency.
“I’m just really disappointed in the fact that we did not listen to our game plan. That’s extremely, extremely frustrating. We knew all week that Creech was a shot-blocker. That’s not a surprise. He’s been playing since his sophomore year,” stated Jason McCowan.
That was our game plan. We talked about it all week. We have notoriously gotten him in foul trouble before, but for him to have nine blocked shots and for us to make just four free throws ... you can’t win games like that.”
Cleveland faced a 35-24 deficit going into the half. The team began to show signs of frustration at an offensive drought that had caused the difference.
There was fire in the Raiders as they retook the floor and settled in to try and battle back into a very important game.
“I felt like we panicked a little early. They got us down by 10 or 11, and we kept trying to make that 10- or 11-point play. I thought we came out of the locker room better than we have all year. We made it a game. There were plenty of chances and we just weren’t able to take advantage of those opportunities,” stated McCowan.
Intensity was at a fever pitch as a third quarter offensive battle ensued. The Raiders were able to gain the advantage but had some sizable ground to make up.
Going into the final quarter Cleveland trailed by just six points and seemingly had the momentum needed to make a run at the win.
It was close. Both teams traded offensive pushes and numerous opportunities presented themselves for either team to gain a significant foothold and take control.
Ultimately, the Owls had just a bit more in the tank as down the stretch key Ooltewah blocks and Cleveland offensive miscues made the difference in a 61-57 final.
“I don’t know if having to battle back there in the third quarter ... that our legs got a little weary there at the end, because we missed some pretty easy shots in transition. We had a chance to win the game. We had no shot last time we played them, so if we had to do it again I would have played them the same way,” expressed McCowan.
Raider scoring was led by Jarod Rhodes with 15. CJ Bryant netted 13 and DJ Bowles put 12 on the board for Cleveland.
Up next for the Raider crews will be a visit from Hamilton Heights on Tuesday.
Ooltewah 10 8 13 8 — 39
Cleveland 7 15 9 18 — 49
Lady Owls (39) — Cross 2, Bradley 7, O’Shea 3, Bowen 6, Delaney 9, Kennedy 4, Lemon 4, Barrett 4.
Lady Raiders (49) — Nora Berry 14, Ware 3, Scoggins 4, A. Muhammad 7, Q. Muhammad 6, Anderson 8, Capron 7.
3-point Goals: Ooltewah 2 (O’Shea, Delaney); Cleveland 4 (Berry 4).
Free Throws: Ooltewah 9-of-10; Cleveland 17-of-27.
Records: Ooltewah 12-9, 5-3 District 5-AAA; Cleveland 14-8, 9-5 District 5-AAA.
Ooltewah 18 17 16 10 — 61
Cleveland 9 15 21 12 — 57
Owls (61) — Andre Moton 14, Jervon Johnson 11, Ben Snider 10, Jackson 6, Creech 6, Robinson 6, Ware 8.
Raiders (57) — Jarod Rhodes 15, CJ Bryant 13, DJ Bowles 12, Herink 5, JOnes 4, Thompson 8.
3-point Goals: Ooltewah 4 (Johnson 2, Jackson, Robinson); Cleveland 7 (Bryant 3, Thompson 2, Rhodes, Herink).
Free Throws: Ooltewah 11-of-17; Cleveland 4-of-6.
Records: Ooltewah 21-3, 9-2 District 5-AAA; Cleveland 13-7, 8-4 District 5-AAA.