In an intense rivalry game, East Hamilton built large double-digit leads in the second half and kept having to fight off a gutsy Ooltewah squad Friday night before finally subduing the Owls, 82-77, in a District 5-3A high school basketball game played in front of a raucous crowd at Ed Foster Gymnasium.
East Hamilton’s girls had little trouble in routing the Lady Owls, 52-19, in the night’s first varsity game.
East Hamilton (16-3 overall, 5-1 in the district) had 19-, 17- and 15-point advantages in the second half, the last with 2 minutes, 29 seconds remaining.
The Owls (7-9, 1-5) repeatedly clawed back and had their deficit down to 81-75 with less than 10 seconds on the clock.
They scored 33 points in the final eight minutes.
“Ooltewah didn’t give up at all and it was a fight to the very end,” said East Hamilton’s Andrew Williams, who scored 16 points. “We should have done better at putting them away.”
The Hurricanes, who kept pace with Cleveland (13-2, 6-0), which defeated McMinn County, 79-60, for the top two spots in league standings, placed three other players in double figures, led by senior Justin Dozier’s 24 points.
East Hamilton will host Cleveland on Tuesday.
DaVae Hughley scored 13 and Cameron Montgomery 12 as the Hurricanes won for the sixth straight time to tie the series at 6-6.
“Every time this game comes up, coach (Rodney) English tells us it’s not a rivalry game, but just another game we have on the schedule,” Dozier said. “He wants us to just go play. We tried to keep the pace up down the stretch, but they stayed with us.”
Two Owls did the most offensive damage against the Hurricanes. Cam Chambers poured in a game-high 26 points and Kobe Smith had 20 and the pair combined for 18 of the Owls’ 33 fourth-quarter points.
Julien Walker finished with 13 points for the Owls.
It was high-octane basketball from start to finish.
The Canes got off to an 11-4 start and led by six points after the opening period. East Hamilton was up by 38-27 in the second when Ooltewah unleashed a lightning-quick 8-0 run in just 61 seconds – Chambers had four points in a six-second span – and trimmed the deficit to three points.
“I was proud of our effort,” Owls coach Jay Williams said. “If you work hard enough, long enough, good things can happen. East Hamilton has a really good basketball team and we stayed in the game by battling them.”
East Hamilton pushed the lead out to 43-36 at the half and got a driving layup by Chambers to start the third quarter.
That’s when the Canes’ streaks starting raining down on the Owls, who could be a dangerous opponent when the district tournament at Walker Valley rolls around in a few weeks.
East Hamilton went on a 16-2 run – Hughley, Dozier, Montgomery and Williams each scored four points – that put the Owls in a 59-40 hole. Dozier’s two free throws gave the Canes a 63-44 advantage going into the fourth period.
“When we got out to 18 or 19 points I didn’t like our decision-making,” English said. “Ooltewah had a bunch of transition points in the first half and going to our 2-3 zone defense cut that out.”
The Owls worked diligently to keep the point spread between 17 and 19 points. At the 5:09 mark of the final period, the Canes’ had a 71-54 lead on Hughley’s drive to the basket.
The Owls’ Dominique Braden hit a 3 from the right wing. Walker and Chambers knocked down field goals and trimmed East Hamilton’s lead to 71-61.
Williams scored on a put-back and was fouled, but missed the free throw. Hughley made 1 of 2 charity tosses and Dozier added a fast-break layup and the lead was 76-61 with 2:29 left.
Ooltewah scored 10 of the next 12 points (Smith had two straight 3s) and the deficit was down to seven points with 33.8 seconds on the clock.
Dozier sandwiched 2 of 4 free throws around a field goal by Greyson Wood, who had six of his eight points in the fourth period, and with less than eight seconds showing the win was sealed.
“This was my season high scoring,” Chambers said. “We had to stay together as a team and couldn’t fall apart against a good team like East Hamilton. We couldn’t argue with each other and get dysfunctional. We got great coaching and kept our heads right.”
East Hamilton girls 52, Ooltewah 19: The Lady Canes (17-2, 4-2) raced to a 10-0 start and scored 21 of the game’s first 23 points, completely taking any doubt of the outcome in the first 10 minutes when they led 37-9.
“We did OK,” East Hamilton coach Hunter Gremore said. “Sometimes you can get a big lead, then get complacent and pick up some bad habits. We played our younger girls in the fourth quarter and failed to score, and that was disappointing. But we got the win and that’s what matters.”
Madison Hayes scored a game-high 18 points, 13 in the first half as the Lady Hurricanes rushed to a 52-14 lead at halftime, and pushed her career scoring total to 1,132 points. She had 342 points this season and is averaging 18 points, 10 rebounds and three assists per game.
Dezah Lacy added 13 points for East Hamilton, which is tied with McMinn County and Cleveland for second place in the district standings behind Bradley Central (19-0, 6-0).
Cleveland and McMinn County also have 4-2 league records. The Lady Raiders are 10-8 overall and Lady Cherokees 11-4. Cleveland’s girls beat McMinn, 59-54, Friday and the top-ranked Bearettes edged Walker Valley, 50-42.
Ooltewah (7-9, 1-5) was paced by Madalyn Mills’ seven points.
East Hamilton 23 14 15 0 – 52
Ooltewah 6 4 4 5 – 19
East Hamilton (52) – Moon 2, Dezah Lacy 13, D. Zeh, Suttles 7, Medley, Madison Hayes 18, Mc. Hayes, C. Zeh 5, Johnson, Evans 2, Abernathy 5, Laboo.
Ooltewah (19) – Poland, Bradley 2, Hilliard, Thompson, Wardlaw 2, Madalyn Mills 7, Daniels, S. Turman 4, R. Turman, Patterson 4.
3-Point Goals – East Hamilton 5 (Suttles 2, Lacy 2, Abernathy 1), Ooltewah none.
East Hamilton 23 20 20 19 – 82
Ooltewah 17 19 8 33 – 77
East Hamilton (82) – Wilson 9, Andrew Williams 16, Cameron Montgomery 12, Paisley, DaVae Hughley 13, S. Randolph 4, Justin Dozier 24, D. Randolph, Johnson, Crawford.
Ooltewah (77) – Wood 8, Shropshire, Braden 3, Howard 4, Henry 1, McHone 2, Cam Chambers 26, Kobe Smith 20, Julien Walker 13.
3-Point Goals – East Hamilton 3 (Dozier 2, Wilson 1), Ooltewah 3 (Smith 2, Braden 1).
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)