While Bradley Central wrapped up the regular-season title on Friday, the Ooltewah Owls took another step toward clinching a No. 2 seed for the District 5-AAA tournament with a tough 67-57 victory over Cleveland’s Blue Raiders in a late-starting game at Cleveland Middle School.
The Owls, getting a game-high 27 points – eight in the fourth quarter that included four key free throws – from senior Ben Snider, improved to 13-9 overall and 8-3 in the district by snapping Cleveland’s 11-game winning streak.
Ooltewah’s Jaymcal Johnson tossed in 19 points.
Kendrick Thompson paced the Blue Raiders with 19 points and Anfernee Scott and Cantrel Ware each finished with 10.
The Blue Raiders are also 8-3 in league play and 14-6 overall. Cleveland defeated Ooltewah 58-50 on Jan. 14 on the Owls’ home court.
Ooltewah, which has won four of its last five games, concludes the district schedule on Monday by hosting Bradley Central in a game postponed by snow last week.
Cleveland plays at Walker Valley on Monday after stepping outside the league to take on Knoxville West on Saturday night.
Bradley (14-9, 10-1) knocked of East Hamilton (6-20, 3-9) by 70-60 on Friday.
“We fought hard tonight,” Ooltewah coach Andre Montgomery said. “We didn’t get many fifty-fifty balls in that loss to Soddy-Daisy (76-70 on Tuesday), but we got some of them against Cleveland and that was the difference in the ballgame.”
Cleveland had won 13 of its last 14 games going into Friday’s showdown with the Owls.
The Owls built a 17-point lead after three quarters, but the Blue Raiders stormed back to slice their deficit to under five in the fourth period when Scott scored nine of his 10 points. But Ooltewah was able to withstand the furious comeback and notch the win.
“We had some guys pick it up and play real good,” Montgomery said. “Ben played really well.”
Snider was coming off a 28-point effort – including six 3-pointers – in the disappointing loss to Soddy-Daisy,
Cleveland (11-11, 6-4) won the girls game, 56-38, behind Nora Berry’s 19 points.
India Corley led Ooltewah with 18 points.
Ooltewah 10 22 21 14 – 67
Cleveland 14 12 10 21 – 57
Ooltewah (67) – Jaymcal Johnson 19, Boyd 7, King 5, Snider 27, Fritz 2, Ross, Montgomery 7, Freeman.
Cleveland (57) – T. Ware 7, Cantrel Ware 10, Kendrick Thompson 19, Beaty 5, Anfernee Scott 10, Brown, Bracero, Vicchio 6, Gibson.
3-Point Goals – Ooltewah 5 (Johnson 3, King, Snider); Cleveland 6 (C. Ware 2, Scott 2, T. Ware, Thompson).
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org)