Fans came to seen a run-and-gun basketball game between visiting Cleveland and East Hamilton on Tuesday night.
Throw in some fun of watching two race-horse teams square off and they got their money’s worth at East Hamilton’s gym.
Cleveland, the lone remaining unbeaten boys’ team in District 5-3A, raced past the Hurricanes 79-70 behind a 28-point effort from KK Curry in a game that had a little bit of everything.
A technical foul on Cleveland’s Kregg Ware.
Unruly Cleveland fans moved from behind the scorer’s table, and they obliged a school security officer who made the request.
Hard-nosed play on the court.
It was, simply another entertaining night of district hoops competition.
“I think we came out good,” said Curry, whose season high was 40 points against Sequoyah on Nov. 17 in a Hall of Champions game. “Coach told us neither team was playing great in the first half, so get back out there and get some points. We had to run our lanes, pressure the ball more and get some stops.”
It was Cleveland’s first game since Dec. 30 when it beat Meigs County on the final night of the Cleveland Holiday Tournament. East Hamilton last played on Jan. 3 when the Hurricanes lost at Baylor.
Curry scored 19 points in the second half, including nine of the team’s first 11 points in the third period when the Raiders (15-2, 5-0) slipped into a 47-41 advantage after playing to a 36-36 halftime tie.
The Hurricanes (12-5, 2-1) wouldn’t allow the Blue Raiders to break away though. They stayed within striking distance at 54-51, but the visitors scored the final six points to gain a 60-51 advantage as the third quarter ended.
“I felt we were pretty rusty in the first half,” Cleveland coach Jason McCowan said. “We let some things we couldn’t control affect us and I don’t know why. We’ve played in some tough environments and a tough schedule. I don’t know if it was because we’ve been off for quite a while.
“We’re pretty battle-tested, but I felt like the environment, officiating and the clock kind of bothered us.”
Play was stopped for about five minutes when game officials tried to correct time that ran off the clock when East Hamilton’s DaVae Hughley was fouled with 3:18 showing. They eventually reset the time at 3:12, and Hughley made both free throws.
Twenty-six seconds later Ware picked up the technical for apparently saying something to a player or official. Justin Dozier, who paced East Hamilton with 23 points, made two free throws after being fouled. He stayed at the line for two more charity tosses due to the technical foul, missing the first and hitting the second, to cut Cleveland’s lead to 47-46.
The ‘Canes retained possession and Hughley missed a shot. Cleveland raced down court and Curry scooped in a layup and 35 seconds later Norance Berry hit two free throws to push the margin to 51-46.
Dozier ripped a 3-pointer from the right wing and Hughley countered with a three-point play. Dozier connected on two free throws and the ‘Canes were within 54-51. Cleveland scored six points over the final 46.6 seconds – two buckets by Diontae Ware and one from Mullek Bradford to extend the lead to 60-51 after three quarters.
“Our kids really fought hard,” Hurricanes coach Rodney English said. “The last two minutes of the third quarter did us in, especially the last 40 seconds. Cleveland did a good job keeping the ball ahead and we couldn’t get there to make plays.”
Both defenses continued to apply pressure, but Cleveland extended the 6-0 run to close the third period to 10 straight points when Curry came up with back-to-back dunks – well, sort of – to start the final period.
The Raiders’ scoring machine broke free for a dunk, but he almost missed it. The ball hit the back rim, ricocheted off the front rim and off the backboard before falling through the net.
Just 35 seconds later, Curry caught a lob pass from Bradford and slammed a dunk home for a 64-51 lead with 6:39 left. The teams swapped baskets and East Hamilton then scored six straight points to pull within 66-59.
Diontae Ware capped an 8-0 run with 2:44 remaining on a layup to give the Raiders their biggest lead of the game at 76-61. That was their last field goal.
East Hamilton cut its deficit to 76-65 on two Matt Wingard free throws at the 2:03 mark. On Cleveland’s next possession, it slowed the tempo drastically trying to run time off the clock. Cleveland made 3-of-8 free throws in the final seconds to subdue the Hurricanes.
“We didn’t play our best game,” Curry said, “and I think East Hamilton was not on either. We came out with the ‘W’ and that’s all that matters.”
Bradford finished with 13 points for the Raiders. He scored 10 points in the second half. Diontae Ware tossed in 12 points.
Noah Fager scored 14 points and made two of the Hurricanes’ four 3-pointers. Hughley added 11 points.
East Hamilton girls 48, Cleveland 46: This game pitted former East Hamilton coach Tony Williams, now at Cleveland, against the Lady Hurricanes’ Hunter Gremore.
East Hamilton trailed throughout the contest, but pulled even with the Lady Raiders at 46-46 on Maleiah Moon’s short baseline jumper with 1:16 left in the game.
After a Cleveland timeout, the Lady Raiders’ Bailey Anderson turned the ball over with 13.8 seconds showing. The Lady Hurricanes milked the clock and Hayes, a 5-foot-11 freshman, tossed in a layup with just 3.1 seconds on the clock.
Cleveland quickly got the ball down court and Emma Flowers, the Lady Raiders’ superlative volleyball standout, got an open layup. The ball was on its way up when the final horn sounded.
Hayes sparked the Lady ‘Canes with 20 points. She had 15 points at halftime.
Sofia Stamatiadis, who has become an offensive force of late, paced Cleveland with a game-high 22 points and she made all four of the team’s 3-pointers. A third-quarter 3-pointer was her only points in the second half.
Flowers finished with 15 points, all coming on nice inside moves for layups.
Cleveland 26 10 24 19 – 79
East Hamilton 21 15 15 19 – 70
Cleveland (79) – Wykle 5, Berry 3, Mullek Bradford 13, KK Curry 28, Wood 3, Diontae Ware 12, Patterson, Davis 9, K. Ware 6, Cobb.
East Hamilton (70) – Wilson 7, Williams 6, Montgomery 7, DaVae Hughley 11, Noah Fager 14, Justin Dozier 23, Wingard 2, Schramm.
3-Point Goals – Cleveland 5 (K. Ware 2, Davis 2, Wood 1), East Hamilton 4 (Fager 2, Dozier 1, Wilson 1).
Cleveland 18 15 10 3 – 46
East Hamilton 14 13 7 14 – 48
Cleveland (46) – Reed 2, Colbaugh, Dasher, Franklin, Sofia Stamatiadis 22, Flowers 15, Anderson 2, Morman 5.
East Hamilton (48) – Moon 7, Lacy 8, Wood 2, Scott, Madison Hayes 20, Gray 5, Laboo 6.
3-Point Goals – Cleveland 4 (Stamatiadis 4), East Hamilton 4 (Moon 1, Lacy 1, Hayes 1, Gray 1).
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)