Kings of the court
Warriors pound Cedar Bluff to earn 3-peat
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.