The top two seeds in both the boys and girls basketball Two Rivers 3A Conference tournaments advanced to their respective championship games so although no state playoff berths were on the line, pride and titles were.
The Corinth Holders boys relied on some accurate outside shooting to defeat Smithfield-Selma 75-50 and the Cleveland girls used a second half flurry to pull away from Triton for the third time this year in a 60-49 triumph.
Perimeter shooting key for Pirates
After going 0-for-4 from 3-point range in the first quarter, the Pirates (17-8) got hot from behind the arc in the second and third quarters, stretching what was a modest one-point lead after one quarter to 15 points heading into the final period.
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Khalil Bryant hit a pair of shots from long range in the second quarter and DeMorris Lee added another 3-pointer to push Corinth Holders out to a 29-21 halftime lead.
The Pirates didn’t cool off in the third quarter either. Namely, Jordan Neal all but put the game out of reach with a trifecta of 3-pointers.
“It was huge because it spread the floor and it made a little gap and made them press a little bit,” said Corinth Holders coach Chris Davis. “Then we had them going down the floor more than they normally do. I know they average a lot of points but we can run up and down the floor pretty good.”
Neal led the Pirates with 16 points, Steven Adams and Brian Frazier each had 10 while Johnavan Neal racked up 10 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Raequan Smith led the Spartans (16-9) with a gutsy performance, finishing with 14 points while Malik Frazier complimented Smith with 10 points.
Rams dominate second half
Cleveland’s half-court defense has been its strength all season long and when the Rams found themselves down eight points at halftime, the Rams went back to basics.
Cleveland (24-2)dominated the second half as it has for much of the regular season, outscoring the Hawks 40-21 in the final two periods to win the tournament title after going undefeated in the regular season.
“All I said was, ‘Go out there and play like champions’ and that’s all there is to say,” Cleveland coach Chris Danehower said of his halftime speech. “I’m really proud of this crew. A lot of people doubted us coming into this year … but they ain’t doubting us anymore.
“We’re not done, we’ve still got some winning to do.”
The Rams started the third quarter on a 16-3 run fueled by outstanding defense and perimeter shooting as Miranda Hinton knocked down an early trey and Courtney McGregor drained a pair.
The real difference was on the defensive end, however, where the Rams contested every Triton shot and frustrated the Hawks.
“We just started talking on defense,” Cleveland’s Myrayna Watkins said. “We knew that we didn’t play well our first half and we wanted to turn it all the way around and turn up the heat.’
Triton’s Je’nae Harvey scored all 10 of her team’s points in the opening quarter to keep pace with the regular season champions and then the No. 2-seeded Hawks relied on transition offense to take a 28-20 halftime lead.
Harvey finished with 16 points and Tarica Worney added 12 for the Hawks. Myrayna Watkins led the Rams with 16 while Tehya Lee and McGregor each finished with nine.