The Chiefs’ boys and girls basketball teams were able to avenge early season losses to Cocke County with a pair of wins on senior night.
Making things even sweeter was the fact that both Cherokee teams ended losing streaks and notched their 10th victories of the season.
The boys were able to pull out a thrilling 66-61 win as Cherokee standout Ryan Bledsoe iced the game with 31.3 seconds left by making a pair of free throws. Bledsoe totaled a game-high 22 points.
“We knew what Cocke County liked to do coming into the game. They like to push the tempo,” Cherokee head coach Ty Webb said. “We made them play at our pace a little more tonight. We slowed them down in transition, and they did not get a lot out of it tonight.”
Cocke County’s Elijah Fowler nearly matched Bledsoe blow-for-blow, finishing with 21 points.
As the second quarter began, the Chiefs (10-14) used the momentum from a Bledsoe 3-pointer at the end of the opening period to go on an 11-3 run that put them ahead by eight points.
Cocke County (14-12) made a big run late in the second quarter to come back and tie the game at 26 at the break.
A back-and-forth third quarter that included four lead changes set up a competitive finish. The Fighting Cocks had taken as much as a seven-point lead, but the Chiefs eventually turned the tide.
A Jacob Kenner 3-pointer off a skip pass by Bronson Shipley with 1:38 remaining put Cherokee in front by nine. That margin proved to be too much of a deficit for the Fighting Cocks to overcome in the final moments.
Seth Forgety had a solid night with 14 points and Wyatt Watson contributed as well with 13 for Cherokee.
Kaynain Swann was the other part of the 1-2 punch for Cocke County, finishing with 17 points.
The Lady Chiefs sent their seniors out in style with a 48-40 win over the Cocke County Lady Red to snap a three-game losing streak.
The joint effort by Kennedy Cowan and senior Keely Henard with 11 points each was instrumental in the triumph.
“It was a huge win for us and for the girls,” Cherokee head coach Jared Lawson said. “These girls have been here for four years and have battled through some tough times. They did a phenomenal job tonight, even though the emotions got to us late in the third quarter.”
The Lady Chiefs (10-13) had a strong defensive fourth quarter, allowing only seven points. Cocke County (10-16) was held scoreless for the first five minutes of the fourth, aloowing Cherokee to build an insurmountable lead.
Cherokee standout Harper Russell made a key layup and had an assist on a Henard 3-pointer that proved to be the difference in a tightly contested game.
The Chiefs were able to make a 14-0 run in the last six minutes of the half to propel them to the lead at the break after trailing by as much as eight points.
The Lady Red’s woes continued in the third quarter as Cherokee came out hot, building its lead to 11 points after Cocke County failed to score for nearly 10 minutes.
Cocke County made a 10-0 run late in the third to draw within a single point of Cherokee, whose offense suddenly went cold. However, Cherokee never gave up the lead once it seized it in the second quarter.