Ooltewah Races Past Cleveland, 75-69, For Third Place In 5-AAA Tournament

Maston Scores 23 As Owls Roll; Walker Valley Beats Bradley, 51-41, For Title

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 - by Larry Fleming

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Ooltewah sophomore Daaron Maston scored a career-high 23 points and the Owls survived an exasperating defensive meltdown in the fourth quarter to defeat Cleveland, 75-69, Tuesday night in the District 5-AAA high school basketball tournament at Cleveland High School.


5in 0.0001pt 0in;">“Offensively, all we did was push the ball,” said Ooltewah coach Jesse Nayadley, now 4-10 against the Blue Raiders. “We haven’t been doing that and some of that is our fault because we were stressing defense. If we could ever put those two things together we could go on a nice little run.”


Nayadley’s pre-game plan was simple: “Let’s go out there and even if they beat us by 20, let’s score 80. Let’s run and make them run, too. That’s what we do best.”


The Owls never stopped running, but they did stop defending and almost blew a 16-point fourth-quarter lead.


“Our defense was not very good tonight,” Nayadley said. “It was actually very poor the whole game.”


Ooltewah’s offense was more than sufficient to withstand Cleveland’s furious comeback and push aside any lingering effects of Saturday’s heart-stopping, 62-59, semifinal loss to Walker Valley on Caio Hysinger’s half-court desperation heave at the final buzzer.


Tuesday’s win gave the Owls (17-9) third place in the tournament and moved them into the Region 3-AAA quarterfinals on Saturday at White County (19-11), which lost to Cumberland County, 43-33, in the District 6-AAA championship game.


Cleveland (17-11) travels to Cumberland County (17-15).


Walker Valley finished strong – junior Lukas Korn scored eight straight points during a key fourth-quarter spurt – to defeat Bradley Central, 51-41, for in the championship showdown before another standing-room-only crowd at the Raider Dome.


Walker Valley (18-11) will host Warren County (13-20) on Saturday while Bradley Central (16-12) entertains Cookeville (26-7). Cookeville routed Warren County, 63-44, in the 6-AAA consolation game.


Ooltewah, playing without junior starter Ben Snider following his one-game suspension for violating team rules, sprinted out of the gate and never let up. They resorted to their favorite weapon – fast-break opportunities – to gain the upper hand against the host Blue Raiders.


Behind Maston’s 11 first-half points, the Owls built a 41-32 lead at intermission. Maston, who battled through a deep thigh bruise for several weeks around midseason, scored seven of Ooltewah’s first 12 points, setting the tempo for what was to come.


“This is my best varsity game,” the 6-foot-2-inch Maston said. “I started off with a few mid-range shots and once I started hitting them I moved out a little farther.”


Maston made two of his five 3-pointers in the third period when the Owls pushed their lead to 50-36 with 2:59 on the clock.


Junior Ron King’s base-line drive and Maston’s 3 maintained the Owls’ double-digit lead at 55-42 and King’s 3 with 0.7 seconds left in the period gave Ooltewah a 58-46 advantage.


Maston started the fourth quarter with a 3 from the left wing and Jacqueze Robinson made a free throw before Cleveland’s Jahmal Johnson scored the Blue Raiders’ first points of the period on two free throws.


King hit a layup to push Ooltewah’s margin to 64-48.


Cleveland then unleashed its courageous rally, scoring 10 straight points, including four each by Kendrick Thompson and Dustin Little, and trailed 64-58 with 4:39 remaining.


King hit a bucket from the left wing and Maston hammered another 3 from the left corner to momentarily stem Cleveland’s surge. The Owls led 69-58 with 3:56 on the clock.


“Ron King is a hustler,” Nayadley said. “And this is how Daaron shot the ball at the beginning of the season, and in the last four or five games. That thigh bruise hampered him for a while, but he’s shot it really well in our last few games.”


Cleveland’s 5-8 senior guard C.J. Bryant scored 11 consecutive points, including a streak-ending 3, and the Blue Raiders were within 72-69 with 2:03 left. Bryant’s first eight points in the one-man scoring spree came on two free throws and three drives to the bucket.


“We started to relax, they started coming back and we had to turn it up again,” Maston said.


Nayadley wasn’t happy at all with the Owls’ defensive play.


“We got very content on defense and Cleveland scored 12 or 14 straight points on layups,” he said.


Robinson dropped in 3-of-4 free throws in the final 45 seconds to nail down the Owls’ impressive win.


King finished with 16 points, senior guard Antonio Jackson had 11 and Robinson added 10.


Bryant led Cleveland (17-11) with 20 points – he scored 53 in the last two games against Ooltewah. Thompson scored 18 points and Johnson had 10.


“We fully expected Ooltewah to run tonight, but we didn’t expect them to shoot that well,” Cleveland coach Jason McCowan said. “(Maston) was aggressive and really shot the ball well. It was like a coming out party for him.”


In the title game, the county rivals battled toe-to-toe for three-plus quarters before Korn ignited a game-changing streak with power moves to the hoop, pushing the Mustangs’ margin to 43-37.


“We needed points and I felt like I had to do something,” the 16-year-old Korn said. “I wanted to do my best and come through for us. This feels amazing.”


It was Walker Valley’s third tournament title in nine years under coach Bob Williams, who is 8-16 against the Bears and his former boss, Bradley Central coach Kent Smith. All three Walker Valley titles have come at the expense of Bradley Central.


“I knew these guys had the ability to have a shot at this,” Williams said. “We were picked to finish fifth in preseason, but this team has come a long way. I thought Korn really stepped up tonight. He’s never been in a game like this before, but he wasn’t nervous. It’s just his demeanor. He doesn’t let the surroundings get to him.”


Smith was hobbling around in obvious pain after having his knee drained earlier in the day – he’s facing knee replacement surgery – and made no bones about why the Bears lost in their bid for a 10th tournament championship in his 17-year tenure.


“We didn’t deserve to win the way we shot the ball tonight,” he said. “We shot 32 percent and had some awfully good looks. (Walker Valley) went to the rim with a purpose and we didn’t. They outplayed us.”


After Bradley’s Matt Whitmire hit a bucket with 38.3 seconds left in the game, Walker Valley’s lead was 45-39.


Caio Hysinger made four straight free throws and Tucker Godfrey drove for a layup down the stretch for the knock-out blows down the stretch.


Korn finished with a team-high 16 points. Tucker Godfrey and Austin Harwood each scored 11 and Hysinger had 10.


Senior Bryce Copeland, whose sister Brooke helped Bradley’s girls capture their third straight tournament title on Monday, led the Bears with a game-high 21 points.




Consolation Game


Ooltewah                               21 20 17 17 – 75    


Cleveland                              14 18 14 23 – 69  


Walker Valley (75) – Antonio Jackson 11, Jacqueze Robinson 10, Ware 3, Presley 7, Daaron Maston 23, Bass 5, Ron King 16.


McMinn County (69) – C.J. Bryant 20, Ware 2, Kendrick Thompson 18, Beaty 6, Scott 2, Brown 2, Little 6, Jahmal Johnson 10.


3-Point Goals – Ooltewah 11 (Maston 5, Presley 2, King 2, Jackson, Bass); Cleveland 2 (Thompson 2).


Championship Game


Walker Valley                     10 6 14 21 – 51


Bradley Central                  7 10 10 14 – 41


Walker Valley (51) – Tucker Godfrey 11, Austin Harwood 11, Caio Hysinger 10, Cartwright 1, Lukas Korn 16, Brownfield 2.


Bradley Central (41) – Bryce Copeland 21, Whitmire 4, Cain, Terrell 4, Cox 5, Clark 4.


3-Point Goals: Walker Valley 2 (Godfrey, Harwood); Bradley Central 3 (Copeland, Cox, Terrell).


District 5-AAA All-Tournament Team


Jackson Brownfield               Walker Valley


Lukas Korn                             Walker Valley


Caio Hysinger                                    Walker Valley


Bryce Copeland                      Bradley Central


Matt Whitmire                       Bradley Central


Logan Cox                              Bradley Central


C.J. Bryant                             Cleveland


Dustin Little                           Cleveland


Daaron Maston                      Ooltewah


Andrew Ware                         Ooltewah


Nick McWherter                    Rhea County


Corey Edgemon                     McMinn County


James York                            Soddy-Daisy


All-District 5-AAA Team (Regular Season)


Name                                      School


Jacqueze Robinson                 Ooltewah


Antonio Jackson                     Ooltewah


Ben Snider                               Ooltewah


C.J. Bryant                               Cleveland


Kendrick Thompson               Cleveland


Bryce Copeland                       Bradley Central


Matt Whitmire                        Bradley Central


Nick McWherter                     Rhea County


Jalen Smith                             Rhea County (MVP)


Tucker Godfrey                      Walker Valley


Caio Hysinger                         Walker Valley


Tucker Landreth                    Soddy-Daisy


Quintin Versa                         McMinn County


Coach of the Year: Bob Williams, Walker Valley


(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com)





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