Cherokee Bluff’s boys wanted to show it could play a complete game of basketball.
The Bears’ contagious energy and relentless defense led to a 76-63 win over Dawson County on Tuesday night. With the victory, Cherokee Bluff secured the No. 2 seed going into next week’s region tournament.
“We wanted to take pride in playing the right way for 32 minutes,” Bears coach Benjie Wood said. “We don’t always play like that. The kids bought into playing for each other.”
Throughout this season, Cherokee Bluff (14-10, 9-2 Region 7-3A) struggled with getting into a rhythm at the start of the third quarter. However, there was no slip up on this night. From the opening quarter until the final period, Cherokee Bluff kept the energy all the way up.
The Bears were relentless with their defensive pressure.
It did not matter who Wood threw onto the floor, there was no let up. Leading the wave of energy for the Bears were Shad Dabney and Dre Raven. Both guards, who came in with different units, they pushed things on the offensive end, while also being all over the floor on defense.
Raven led the team with a team-high 18 points for Cherokee Bluff, while Corey Thomas had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Also for the Bears, Raven and Cade Simmons each scored 14 points.
Dawson County (17-7, 8-3) made a run in the third quarter. The Tigers managed to navigate through the pressure and cut the lead to single digits late in the third quarter.
“Dawson County is too good to not make a run,” Wood said. “We weathered the storm.”
Tigers coach Todd Cottrell credited the Bears for his team’s struggle.
“Cherokee Bluff played hard and well tonight,” he said. “They earned the win tonight.”
Up next, Cherokee Bluff visits Gilmer to wrap up the regular season at 8:30 p.m. Friday in Ellijay.
DAWSON COUNTY GIRLS 44, CHEROKEE BLUFF 38: Dawson County is peaking at just about the right time.
The Lady Tigers had to navigate through a slow start and a much improved opponent before knocking down shots to beat Cherokee Bluff on Tuesday in Flowery Branch.
“We didn’t shoot it very well in the first half,” Dawson County coach Eric Herrick said. “We’re playing our best basketball of the year right now.”
Things didn’t start off too promising for the Lady Tigers (12-11, 4-7 Region 7-3A) for nearly three quarters. Shots were hard to come by against a tenacious Lady Bears defense. Things opened up for Dawson County in the fourth quarter.
Senior Mariah Benson went to the glass and started getting the Lady Tigers second shots. Her teammate Madison Anglin took advantage of the opportunity. Anglin started knocking down one shot after another. Early in the quarter, she scored her 1,000 career point and finished with a game-high 18 points.
Cherokee Bluff managed to stay in the game with its defense behind the play of Alexa Mize and Taylor Click. Both hits some critical shots in the fourth and finished with 11 points apiece.
“They hit more shots than we did,” Lady Bears coach Lindsay Justice said. “We’re improving.”