Red Bank improved to 16-13 on the season as Lions’ seniors Javonta Johnson and Kalen Sewell earn an honorable send-off on Senior Night with a 68-50 win over East Ridge.
"It is all about getting hot at the right time,” said Red Bank Head Coach Nick Fike following the Lions’ win over the Pioneers.
The Lions have been as hot as it gets in the Chattanooga area. With seven straight wins, Red Bank is hungry to enter the district tournament.
“There are no excuses, but we have had a tough schedule. We are building experience after losing what we lost last year, but as coaches, we have been patient and the guys have been coming to work every day and have bought in,” said Fike about the blossoming young group.
The young talent was on display against East Ridge. With four players in double figures and 21 total assists for the night, the young team has matched their explosiveness with team chemistry. With both of those factors working together, the Lions are a tough team to beat.
So tough that they were able to leap out on East Ridge in the first quarter with a double-digit lead. Senior Kalen Sewell led the charge with six points in the opening quarter and would continue his impressive senior night in the second quarter with multiple makes from 3-point land.
“He needed that,” iterated Fike on Sewell’s performance. “He has been in a slump lately. If he can come out of that slump right now, then it is the perfect time for it. He needed it, we needed it, and seeing the ball go through the basket is big for him and us.”
With the 30-16 lead at the half, the Lions’ charge would be handed off to junior Anthony Bonner. With only four points in the first half, Bonner was due for an explosive performance— and he would provide one.
With both teams beginning to trade baskets, the crowd intensity beginning to reach a boiling point, and the Pioneers attempting to mount a comeback, Bonner would begin his work from inside. With four makes in the third quarter, Bonner quickly leaped from four to 13 points.
With Red Bank continuously hitting their shots, East Ridge was nearly helpless in mounting a comeback. Adding to the wound would be multiple technical fouls, an ejection, and overall, an insurmountable deficit.
And with the minutes rolling off the clock, Bonner would be able to put the final nail in the coffin. With a steal underneath his own basket, Bonner separated himself quickly from the crowded paint. A Red Bank fan behind me started to say, “Dunk it! Dunk it!” which queued me in on what was about to happen. Bonner would rise gracefully before his arm came crashing down upon the rim. The dunk had people on their feet, and East Ridge heading for the locker room.
The dunk was the epitome of the night. Red Bank from start to finish.
“We have been preaching to play together. Our theme is ‘connected’ and to play connected,” said Fike. “When we are sharing the ball like how we have the past seven games, any of these guys are capable of having a good night.”
Red Bank girls 47, East Ridge 13 — For the Lady Lions, Senior Night was dedicated to their lone senior, Natasha Culpepper, in Red Bank’s blowout win over the Lady Pioneers, 47-13.
The Lady Lions smothered the Lady Pioneers, leading to multiple fast break buckets. Red Bank’s Journey Holloway finished with 18 points and was the defensive menace that forced multiple turnovers.
“She always brings it. We always know what we are going to get with Journey,” said Red Bank Girls Basketball Head Coach Kevin Wilson. “When she is bringing it, we have defense, we have offense, and we got a young great player in the making.”
As Holloway led the Lady Lions to an enormous lead, the fourth quarter was dedicated to Culpepper and getting her an open basket. The Lady Pioneers were not having it and made things difficult for the Red Bank offense in the quarter. With time dwindling under a minute, it was dire to get Culpepper the basket.
But with seven seconds remaining, Culpepper would find an opening in the lane and make the layup. The crowd, all in support of Culpepper, erupted as the ball floated through the hoop. The basket would be the final make within Red Bank’s gymnasium for the season, and it was only fitting for it to be Culpepper to earn it.
“This is only her second year with us, but she has bought in with us,” said Wilson about Culpepper. “Everybody loves her. She takes care of all the girls. She is somebody that everyone looks up to. She means a lot to Red Bank High School, and that is why the crowd erupts when she makes that basket. Everybody loves her.”
The support for Culpepper was unlike what I have seen in this year’s basketball season. Despite the score being 47-13, it sounded and felt like Red Bank hit a game-winning shot. The importance of it, though, was the same.
“In the moment, I felt like I was a star of my school,” said Culpepper about the basket. “I love each and every one at this school.”
EAST RIDGE 5 3 5 0 – 13
RED BANK 13 13 19 2 – 47
EAST RIDGE (13) – Brown 8, Reid 2, Scholfield 2, Reynolds 1.
RED BANK (47) – Journey Holloway 18, Malika Odum 13, Guye 8, Houston 3, Culpepper 3, Stoudemire 2.
3-point goals: East Ridge 1 (Brown); Red Bank 1 (Odum).
Records: East Ridge 0-10; Red Bank 8-14
EAST RIDGE 7 9 21 13 – 50
RED BANK 13 17 19 19 – 68
EAST RIDGE (50) – Cadion Harris 18, Tyree Smith 17, Jackson Hasani 10, Hamilton 3, Matherly 2.
RED BANK (68) – Anthony Bonner 19, Kalen Sewell 14, Jaylen Rice 10, Malik Rizer 10, Lloyd 9, Crutcher 3, Johnson 3.
3-point goals: East Ridge 2 (Harris); Red Bank 5 (Sewell 3, Crutcher 1, Johnson 1).
Records: East Ridge 11-14; Red Bank 16-13