Kings of the court

War­riors pound Cedar Bluff to earn 3-peat

Cherokee County Herald - - SPORTS - By Shan­non Fa­gan

CEN­TRE – Com­ing off an ex­haust­ing over­time win against Sand Rock on Fri­day, it would have been easy for the Chero­kee County War­riors to come into Satur­day’s Chero­kee County Tour­na­ment cham­pi­onship game against Cedar Bluff a lit­tle slug­gish.

If any­thing, Fri­day’s over­time vic­tory awak­ened a gi­ant.

The War­riors con­nected on 13 3-point­ers against the Tigers, and com­bined with a smoth­er­ing de­fen­sive ef­fort, Class 4A’s se­cond-ranked team earned a 62-19 blowout vic­tory at the Gads­den State-Chero­kee Arena.

The win se­cured Chero­kee County’s third straight county bas­ket­ball ti­tle.

“We talked about it last night. You’ve got to come back with a great at­ti­tude, and our guys re­ally did,” War­rior head coach Neal Wester said. “De­fen­sively, our in­ten­sity was there. Our move­ment on de­fense was as good as it has been all year long, and that was a lit­tle sur­pris- ing af­ter last night. We re­ally hus­tled on de­fense, and we started mak­ing some shots. It kind of got to snow­balling. Ev­ery­body got to feel­ing good. Our kids found each other, and we shot it well.”

Thir­teen of 14 play­ers on the War­riors’ ros­ter scored.

Justin McKnight led the way with 11 points, in­clud­ing three treys. Joel Wester also con­nected on three treys and fin­ished with nine points, four re­bounds, two as­sists and a steal. Colin Ed­wards sank a pair of 3-point­ers and had six points. Tyren Dupree also had six points, three as­sists, two steals and two re­bounds. Quar­tez Hen­der­son fin­ished with five points, in­clud­ing a 3pointer, to go along with four boards, two steals and two as­sists.

“I think our depth won us the game,” Joel Wester said. “When we subbed, we re­ally didn’t skip a beat. Ev­ery­body was mak­ing their shots. We know we can make them, and we just trust each other.”

Hen­der­son said Fri­day night’s Sand Rock game served the War­riors (16-4) no­tice to play a com­plete game.

“Last night, we were kind of in for a sur­prise. Sand Rock came out and just played, but tonight, we came in the locker room and we said we can’t get out­played. We’re go­ing to have to come out and start from the get-go. That’s what I think we did tonight.”

Cedar Bluff (9-7) kept things close in the first quar­ter, trail­ing just 11-8, but the War­riors went on a 19-3 run in the se­cond to take a 30-11 half­time lead. That lead swelled to 50-17 at the end of three quar­ters.

“They’re No. 2 in the state in (Class) 4A, and that’s pretty much a state­ment in it­self. I can’t imag­ine any­body be­ing much bet­ter than they are in 4A,” Cedar Bluff coach Joe Car­pen­ter said. “I think we could have played bet­ter in some ar­eas, but we just didn’t play real well tonight at all.”

Michael Croft led the Tigers with seven points. Isaiha Jones added six points.

Coach Wester said he’s proud his se­niors are a part of some­thing spe­cial.

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