Red Bank entered Thursday’s home game against East Hamilton on a six-game slide.
The Hurricanes came in riding a five-game winning streak.
So, East Hamilton was expected to win.
Coach Michael Stone’s Hurricanes did just that, blasting the outmanned Lions, 80-44, in District 6-AA basketball action at Susan Ingram Thurman Gymnasium.
It wasn’t textbook basketball, though.
“At the end of the night, whether you win by two or 30, you take the ‘W,’ ” Stone said. “This certainly wasn’t a pretty win, but it’s the kind of basketball you get sometimes.”
Senior Cody Knox sparked the Hurricanes (10-3, 3-1) with game-high 13 points and a sterling defensive effort on Red Bank’s best player – Fred Matthews.
Dominic Powell had 12 points, Jordan Wallace scored 10 and Ladarius Watkins added nine as the Hurricanes notched their sixth consecutive victory to hold onto second place in District 6-AA behind Howard (10-3, 5-1).
Knox got a lion’s share of the credit for East Hamilton posting its second-best offensive effort of the season – the Hurricanes scored season-high 83 points against Hixson on Dec. 14.
And, Knox’s smothering defense on Matthews helped the Hurricanes to hold their third straight opponent’s offense in the 40s. McCallie and Ringgold each scored 48 in the fifth and fourth wins in East Hamilton’s current streak.
“When you play Red Bank, Freddy’s help on the perimeter is limited, so you have to do what you can to stop him,” Stone said. “Cody did a great job on him all night.”
Matthews, who finished with 10 points, was held scoreless in the first half and made just two field goals, the first – a 3-pointer – came with 3:19 left in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Matthews hit two free throws, drilled a jumper and added three free throws.
“My main goal tonight was to play good defense on their best player (Matthews),” Knox said. “I wanted to deny him the ball so he wouldn’t get any good catches.”
In Tuesday’s win over McCallie, Knox and Tre Herndon defended McCallie aces Jamaal Calvin and Jorden Williams, holding the dynamic duo to a combined 31 points. Calvin had 10 at halftime and nine of Williams’ 13 total points came in the first quarter.
“Cody and Tre did good jobs on McCallie’s guards,” Stone said. “They didn’t shut them down, but contained them. Cody is the definition of a lockdown defender. He has that skill set and the right attitude to do that.”
William Davis and Davis Malik each had 10 points to join Matthews in double figures for the Lions (3-15, 0-6).
“We may have taken things for granted and sometimes that’s going to happen,” Stone said. “But I was pleased with our effort on the defensive end. We challenged our guys and Red Bank didn’t score its first field goal in the third quarter until something like three minutes were left.
“That will carry you through some bad shooting nights. We missed a lot of shots. It wasn’t a lack of execution because we were getting quality looks. We were just missing a lot of shots.”
Knox, the team’s leading scorer, had five points and Powell and Kenny Bunton each scored four while leading the Hurricanes to a 15-9 first-quarter lead. The Lions hit the first field goal in the second quarter, but East Hamilton outscored them 19-7 to open a 34-20 advantage at halftime.
East Hamilton outscored Red Bank, 12-2, starting the third quarter and put the Lions in a 46-22 hole. The Hurricanes’ lead was 48-28 with 1:56 left in the period, but they outscored the hosts, 11-2, and went into the final quarter with a 59-30 lead.
“We didn’t come out as strong as we needed to,” Knox said. “We were kind of flat. But we worked hard on our rebounding in the second half. This win was great and a lot of fun because we had a lot of guys get some experience tonight.”
Eleven Hurricanes played. Ten scored.
The 6-foot-5-inch Wallace, a burly presence inside, missed two free throws with 7:23 left in the game, but later scored 10 of the Hurricanes’ final 16 points over the final 4:32. All five of his shots came on post moves around the rim.
Wallace had averaged three points in seven previous games, but came into Thursday’s game shooting 83.3 percent from the field.
“It was nice to see contributions from guys that don’t get many minutes,” Stone said. “Jordan is a new kid with us this year and we’re just now getting him into the rotation. He could turn into a pivotal player down the stretch. You try to take away some positives from a game like this and Jordan was a nice one.”
The Hurricanes go right back on the court Friday with another district game at Hixson (7-10, 1-4). On Tuesday, East Hamilton will host Tyner (8-4, 3-2).
“We’re right in the thick of things right now,” Stone said. “The nice thing about tonight was that we won a game we needed to win. It keeps us building the foundation and we’ll get to see how strong that foundation is in the next few weeks.”
East Hamilton girls 43, Red Bank 30: The Lady Hurricanes (8-6, 4-0), who have won eight of their last nine games and four in a row, jumped out to an 11-0 first-quarter lead and then cruised to the victory in a sloppily-played game.
East Hamilton outscored the Lady Lions (2-13, 0-5), who suffered their fifth straight loss, 19-4, in the third quarter and built a 32-14 lead. Red Bank had a 16-5 edge in the final eight minutes, but still lost by 13 points.
Junior Juliette Harp led East Hamilton with 16 points and Jessica Caudle added 10.
Freshman Jasmine Simpson paced Red Bank with 12 points.
East Hamilton 11 8 19 5 – 43
Red Bank 0 10 4 16 – 30
East Hamilton (43) – Jessica Caudle 10, Petitt, Juliette Harp 16, Stovall, Woods 4, K.Caudle 4, McCollum, Montgomery, Zackery 2, Moon 4, Giles.
Red Bank (30) – Russell 4, Babb 6, Woodward, Battles 1, Jones, Usher 6, Jasmine Simpson 12, Maddox 1.
3-Point Goals – East Hamilton 1 (J.Caudle); Red Bank none.
East Hamilton 15 19 25 21 – 80
Red Bank 9 11 10 14 – 44
East Hamilton (80) – Jordan Wallace 10, Lowery 8, Dominic Powell 12, Bunton 8, Thomas, Herndon 6, Wingard 2, Griffith 8, Cody Knox 13, Dennis 4, Watkins 9.
Red Bank (44) – Autry, William Davis 10, Davis Malik 10, Fred Matthews 10, Tucker 4, Hudson, McConnell 4, Poole 6.
3-Point Goals – East Hamilton 2 (Herndon, Knox); Red Bank 1 (Matthews).
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org)