The Tyner Rams are playing their best basketball at the perfect time of the season to be doing so.
With the District 6-AA tournament starting later this week, coach Gerald Harris watched as his team improved to 18-6 overall and 9-4 in 6-AA with a 86-54 thrashing of the East Ridge Pioneers at Tyner Monday night.
Jemichah Bowman had the hottest hand for the Rams as he scorched the nets for 19 points in the first quarter alone as Tyner raced to a 29-15 lead.
The Pioneers held their own for the next two stanzas before Tyner finished off the game with a 22-7 difference in the fourth quarter for the 32-point difference.
"We won and I thought our defensive intensity was there. Of course, it doesn't hurt when Jemichah hits a few shots," Harris smiled, knowing that Bowman may be the best pure shooter on the team and has pretty accurate range from 35 feet in.
"I thought our defense was pretty good and when that's the case, our offense runs a lot smoother and allows us to score on a lot of layups. I felt like we'd come out and play hard, but these guys are really buying into the pressure man-to-man defense that I stress so much.
"I told these guys that we shouldn't worry who gets the credit as long as we're winning," he added after his Rams had won their ninth straight game.
East Ridge coach Jon Goddard wasn't exactly thrilled with the way things turned out.
"They played hard man-to-man defense and we backed down from it. Typically, we had another slow start and by the time we came back, stupid mistakes and turnovers killed us.
"It was a total lack of focus and concentration by my guys and I don't think we did anything well tonight. It seems like we've been a patchwork team all season," Goddard added.
While Tyner's fast start led to a 29-15 advantage when the first quarter ended, the difference was 40-27 at intermission.
Eddie Hitchcock sank two free throws before bagging a 3 as the Pioneers got to within 49-39 midway through the third quarter, but Tyner got six straight points from Dejuan Hardwick as the quarter wound down and it was 64-47 with eight minutes to play.
It never got any closer as the Rams continued to pull away, enjoying their biggest lead of the game when it ended.
East Ridge, now 10-15 overall and 5-9 in 6-AA, got 24 points from Hitchcock while Derrick Davidson was next with 14.
Bowman topped the Rams with 30. Bristen Bridgemon was next with 18 while Hardwick added 10 for the winners.
Tyner also won the rebound battle by a 29-21 margin. Bowman snagged six to lead the Rams while Bridgemon and Hardwick had five each. Davidson was tops for East Ridge with eight.
TYNER GIRLS 60, EAST RIDGE 27: Mia Smith had 16 points to lead the Lady Rams while teammate Brittany McElvain tossed in 13.
Delvay Hines and Kesha Parks were close with nine points apiece.
Ieashia Taylor was tops for the Lady Pioneers with 11 points. Brittany Hubbard was next with six.
East Ridge 6 12 7 2 -- 27
Tyner 18 14 19 9 -- 60
EAST RIDGE (27) -- Halfacre 1, Epps 1, Hubbard 6, Moon, Calloway 2, Taylor 11, Finley, Norwood 1, McKibben 5.
TYNER (60) -- Turner 6, Smith 16, McElvain 13, Hines 9, Parks 9, Hudgins, West, Montgomery 5, Roberts, Garth 2.
3-POINT GOALS: East Ridge 1 (Taylor); Tyner 3 (McElvain, Parks 2)
East Ridge 15 12 20 7 -- 54
Tyner 29 11 24 22 -- 86
EAST RIDGE (54) -- King 8, Davis 2, Millener, Talley 1, Thomas, Jones 5, Johnson, Hendrix, Davidson 14, Hitchcock 24.
TYNER (86) -- Spence 6, Bowman 30, D. Rollins 4, Bridgemon 18, Watkins 4, Hardwick 10, Waller, Strickland 8, L. Rollins 2, Howard 4.
3-POINT GOALS: East Ridge 7 (King 2, Davidson 2, Hitchcock 3); Tyner 7 (Bowman 6, Strickland).
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)