East Ridge launched an all-out 3-point blitz against Ooltewah on Monday night at Catherine Neely Gymnasium.
The Owls, who trailed 2-0 before the game even started due to Cam Chambers’ technical foul because of dunking in warmups, weathered that storm. They whittled an 18-6 first-quarter deficit down to 27-23 at halftime.
Ooltewah took its first lead at 31-30 on Kobe Smith’s layup three minutes into the third period and delivered a knockout final quarter for a 66-54 victory.
Smith, Chambers and Logan Henry combined for 37 points and that three-pronged attack accounted for 25 of the team’s 27 points in the decisive fourth period.
“We got discombobulated at the start with that (dunk) situation,” Ooltewah coach Jay Williams said. “As the game went along we got back into it. Thirty –two minutes is a long time. You can’t make a 12-point basket. You have to climb back little by little.”
Smith finished with a game-high 19 points. Chambers closed with 16 and Henry added 12, including 10 in the fourth quarter when the Owls put the game away.
Ooltewah (10-9) outscored the Pioneers 12-3 coming out of halftime and four different players scored.
Smith’s shot seemed to give the Owls a much-needed spark. His tough spin and highly contested drive to the rim a few minutes later capped the run.
“We came together in the second half,” said Smith, who led the Owls with a game-high 19 points. “They frustrated us a little with their 3-point shooting in the first half because we weren’t recovering in time off screens and they had open looks.”
Six of East Ridge’s nine made field goals in the first half were 3-pointers, with three coming in a one minute, 14 second spurt as the first quarter wound down. Nate Smith and Tyrone Martin each made two 3s in the opening period while Sam Garmany and Alonzo Russell each connected in the second.
“We played better offensively tonight, East Ridge coach Jon Goddard said. “We changed some stuff up with our motion offense and I thought our guys felt more comfortable. We’re not very big, so we have to be creative at times.”
The Owls’ Henry, who was off-the-mark most of the first half, broke a 45-45 tie with a 3 from the right wing. East Ridge’s Derick Tremble drove the lane for a layup, but the Pioneers didn’t score for another three minutes.
In between East Ridge scores, the Owls were finishing off a 20-6 run to start the fourth period that extended their lead to 59-47 lead with 1:44 remaining.
One sequence in the scoring spurt summed up Ooltewah’s second-half resurgence.
Smith’s clutch straight-on 3 gave the Owls a 54-47 cushion.
On a subsequent loose-ball play, Chambers lost the handle and the ball bounced toward Ooltewah’s bench. Just at the sideline, Chambers grabbed the ball, flipped a behind-the-back pass in the lane to Smith, who went up for a layup. Smith was fouled and made the first charity toss, but missed the second. Chambers got the rebound and dropped in a layup with all the action coming in a six-second span and Ooltewah had a 57-47 lead with 2:01 on the clock.
“I knew I could get to the ball,” Chambers said. “We always talk about getting the loose balls, no matter where it’s going. I trusted Kobe would catch the pass.”
Ooltewah, which beat the Pioneers, 69-47, back in November, made 8 of 12 free throws in the final 56 seconds to maintain the double-digit lead.
“Our fourth quarter says a lot about Kobe and Cam, and a lot about the other players,” Williams said. “It was a good team effort and we showed some toughness by climbing back and winning the game.
“East Ridge played well and that’s a well-coached team.”
Ooltewah girls 46, East Ridge 35: The Lady Owls got jumped out to a 16-8 first-quarter lead, with Madalyn Mills scoring six points and Brooklyn Wardlaw five.
Mills finished with 15 points and Wardlaw added 12 points as the Lady Owls completed the regular season sweep of the Lady Pioneers. Ooltewah won in November, 56-18.
Monique Baker pumped in a game-high 18 points, 16 coming after halftime. She scored all 12 of East Ridge’s points – one more than Ooltewah’s team – in the third quarter.
Ooltewah 9 14 16 27 -- 66
East Ridge 18 9 12 15 – 54
Ooltewah (66) – Wood 8, Braden, Howard 5, Henry 12, Cam Chambers 16, Kobe Smith 19, Walker 6.
East Ridge (54) – Tremble 5, Williams 2, Hudgins 6, Nate Mathis 11, Stewart 1, Tyrone Mathis 15, Taylor, Garmany 6, King, Russell 4, Moffett 4.
3-Point Goals – Ooltewah 3 (Henry 2, Smith 1), East Ridge 9 (Martin 3, Mathis 2, Garmany 2, Hudgins 1).
Ooltewah 16 13 11 6 – 46
East Ridge 8 4 12 11 – 35
Ooltewah (46) – Cline 4, Poland 4, Bradley, Hilliard, Daniels 2, Brooklyn Wardlaw 12, Madalyn Mills 15, R. Turman, S. Turman 8, Patterson 1.
East Ridge (35) – Gamble 7, Jordan 4, Monique Baker 18, Moton 4, Toney, Hubbard 2, Harvey 0.
3-Point Goals – Ooltewah 2 (Cline 1, Wardlaw 1), East Ridge 5 (Gamble 2, Jordan 1, Baker 1, Moton 1).
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)