Tyner, Craddock Give Tyner Coach Ward Birthday Gift: An 80-44 Victory

Sophomore Scores 15 Points On 5 3-Pointers As Rams Roll In Opener

Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - by Larry Fleming

Tyner’s Rams gave new coach E’Jay Ward a belated birthday present Tuesday night and sophomore Javon Craddock wrapped a bow around the gift box.

Craddock led the high-octane Rams with a team-high 15 points on five 3-pointers, including three in a row starting the third quarter.

Craddock’s 51-second long-range scoring burst pushed the Rams into a 52-23 lead and they went on to crush Hixson, 80-44, in a District 6-2A high school basketball blowout at Hixson.

“Javon is the best shooter I’ve ever seen shoot the basketball,” said Ward, who turned 28 on Sunday. “He can flat-out stick the ball in the hole. I think this will be his breakout year and he can potentially be the best shooter in the state of Tennessee.”

Craddock hit a 3 in each of the first two quarters, but his flurry on corner bombs sent the Wildcats reeling and the Rams had their offense in cruise control from there on out.

All 15 players on the Tyner roster scored at least two points.

None, however, was more impressive than the soft-spoken Craddock, who wielded long-distance shots with the force of a sledgehammer.

Is he a streak shooter?

“Basically,” Craddock said, “I’m an automatic shooter.”

When the game starts, Craddock is already hot.

“We had a defense that should have covered him,” Hixson coach Lawanza Crutcher said. “Guys were assigned that area, but didn’t rotate and he was playing H-O-R-S-E with us. When we did get somebody out there with a hand in his face he still made shots.”

The impressive victory is exactly what Ward wanted in his sideline debut with the Rams.

“I told the boys my birthday was Sunday,” said Ward, who replaced Keitha Booker, who went into administration. “They asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I told them I want a win Tuesday in my first game as a head coach.”

The Rams (1-0, 1-0) delivered.

And for future reference, teams facing the Rams better bring some defense.

They raced to a 15-2 lead before anyone broke a sweat. Hixson had a mini-rally and pulled to within 21-12, but Tyner went up 35-16 and sailed into halftime with a comfortable 43-23 advantage.

“When I took this job, this is the vision I had in mind,” Ward said. “We have a lot of guys at Tyner that can play basketball and we showed tonight that we have multiple guys that can help us. This is a pick-and-roll offense and we have a lot of guards and they’re going to get in spots and make each other better.”

Craddock found his spot, for sure.

The sure-shot phenom drilled a 3 from the corner. Swish.

Next time down, he went a little deeper into the corner. Swish.

Hixson scored on the other end when Reuben Snow, who led his team with a  game-high 19 points, dropped in a layup.

Craddock wasn’t through. He went as far as he could from the basket in the same corner and launched another 3. Swish.

The Rams’ lead ballooned from 43-23 to 52-25.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Rams enjoyed a 58-37 advantage and was just playing out the string. They outscored the Wildcats, 22-9, over the final 6 minutes and 56 seconds and won by 36 points.

“I’ve been on these guys for four straight weeks,” Ward said. “They’ve been beating up on each other in practice and were hungry to play somebody that didn’t have ‘TYNER’ on their chest.”

Aman Grace and Jaylend Lattimore each scored nine points for the Rams, who wound up hitting 10 3-pointers.

Terry Moorer scored 13 points for the Wildcats, who dropped to 0-5 overall and 0-1 in the district on the season.

Did Crutcher think Tyner sent the other teams in 6-2A a strong message with its performance on Tuesday?

“It’s too early for a message being sent after just one game,” he said. “I know my team is going to keep working. I’ve had bad losses before and had teams come back and beat that later in the season.”

Tyner girls 62, Hixson 19: Keniah Watkins poured in 31 points as the Lady Rams scorched the Lady Wildcats. Watkins had 16 points at halftime and scored 13 more in the third quarter, including two of her three 3-pointers.

Laundra Melton finished with 13 points and also made three 3s for the Lady Rams (4-1, 1-0).

Kirby Brown paced the Lady Wildcats with eight points, all coming in the first half.

Boys Game

Tyner                          23 20 15 22 – 80

Hixson                        12 11 12 9 – 44

Tyner (80) – Jackson 3, Javon Craddock 15, Little 3, Bridgeman 8, Grace 9, Halfacre 5, Gladden 3, Dozier 5, Strong 2, Elston 3, Lattimore 9, Timmons 2, Armour 4, Favors 5, Sturkey 4.

Hixson (44) – Long 7, Alemeda, Carter 2, Smith, Terry Moorer 13, Reuben Snow 19, Berrier, Jones, Crowe.

3-Point Goals – Tyner 10 (Craddock 5, Jackson 1, Little 1, Gladden 1, Dozier 1, Favors 1), Hixson 4 (Long 1, Moorer  1, Snow 1, Jones 1).

Girls Game

Tyner                          14 21 18 8 – 62

Hixson                        9 6 4 0 – 19

Tyner (62) – McKenzie 1, Ratliff 4, Cooley 2, Crumsey, Cosey, Laundre Melton 13, McCutcheon 6, Carnes, Keniah Watkins 31, Taylor 4, Thomas, Jones, Wyatt 1.

Hixson (19) – Crutcher 2, Taylor 2, Nakata, Strickland 1, Hunter 4, Brown 8, Elsea, Hemphill 2, Guerrero, Casula, Hobbs..

3-Point Goals – Tyner 6 (Melton 3, Watkins 3), Hixson none.

(Contact Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and on Twitter@larryfleming44)

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