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Fighting Cocks rally to win at Cherokee

CCHS senior Jerick Varner, shown during last Friday’s game at Jefferson County, had 17 points in the Fighting Cocks 59-57 overtime win at Cherokee on Tuesday night.
Published: 6:41 PM, 12/12/2013 Last updated: 6:52 PM, 12/12/2013

Author: Caleb Chrisman
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

ROGERSVILLEThe Cocke County Fighting Cocks haven't played particularly well at Cherokee over the past several seasons.

Tuesday night though, Cocke County battled the Chiefs into overtime and found a way to gut out a huge District 2-AAA win, 59-56.

The victory is the Fighting Cocks first at Cherokee since Dec. 14 2007, and only their third win in their last 12 trips to Rogersville.

Senior Dylan Dockery led Cocke County (7-3, 2-1 District 2-AAA) with 18 points, while senior Jerick Varner tacked on 17 points in the win.

The Fighting Cocks outshot the Chiefs in the victory as they finished at 41 percent from the field, while Cherokee shot 34 percent.

"I can count on one hand how many times Cocke County has won here in the last, probably, 20 years. This is a tough place to play," Cocke County head coach Ray Evans said. "It always turns into an ugly game, but we finally righted the ship in the second half and came out in the fourth quarter and actually played and got it tied. Then we were able to take care of business in overtime."

Getting to overtime was a bit of a struggle for the Big Red, but after trailing for a large chunk of the contest, several players stepped up in a big way late.

Christopher Huff tied the game up at 48-48 on a huge three from the corner with just 20 seconds remaining in regulation.

"We gave a little more effort (in the fourth quarter) and we're a little smarter, not giving them backdoor cuts," Evans said. "And then we were just being smarter on offense. We started getting some rebounds and started pushing the ball up the floor. (Cherokee) doesn't like to play fast and when we got the rebounds and kicked it out quick, it was usually 3-on-1 or 3-on-2. We finally started to understand that that's what we had to do. That was a big difference."

Once in the overtime frame, the Fighting Cocks built a 54-48 lead thanks to four straight points from Varner and another basket by Dockery.

Cherokee chipped the lead to 54-51 on the next possession, but Huff stretched it back out to 55-51 after a made free throw.

After a second consecutive Cherokee three to cut the lead to 55-54, Dockery nailed a pair of free throws to set the lead at three again, 57-54.

Following a quick bucket by the Chiefs, Ben Conard stepped to the line and hit two huge free throws to push the lead to 59-56 with under 20 seconds to play.

Evans decided to foul to keep Cherokee from having the chance to tie, and it paid off as the Chiefs hit the second of the two free throws.

Then, the Chiefs couldn't even foul as Dockery was able to dribble away from defenders as time expired.

Cocke County led 10-9 after a quarter, but Cherokee outscored the Fighting Cocks 20-11 in the second to take a 29-21 lead into the half.

"They slowed us down a little bit, and then we slowed ourselves down a lot," Evans said. "We're still in that learning process. We want to play fast, but yet we've got to go inside. And it's a hard mix to understand, and the kids are struggling with that right now.

"I want them to push it fast, but at the same time I still want it going to the post. I don't want us just coming down and jacking threes all of the time. We're getting better at it."

Dockery, who was held scoreless in the first half, answered with seven of Cocke County's nine third quarter points, but the Fighting Cocks still didn't inch any closer as they trailed 38-30 after three.

"Our fastest game of the year our post players scored over 60 points, and that's what I'm trying to get them to understand," Evans said. "We can play fast, but still go to the post. We'll get it.
"I think we've got a lot of room to get better. I think once we do, we're going to be a good team."

Dockery answered with seven more fourth quarter points as Cocke County outscored Cherokee 18-10 in the final eight minutes to send things to overtime.

The Fighting Cocks outscored Cherokee 11-9 in the overtime period.

"A win's win, especially here at Cherokee," Evans said. "I'll take it. It's a big conference win on the road. There aren't too many teams that are going to be able to do that a lot. It's a good win."

Cocke County hosts Morristown West on Friday evening.

COCKE COUNTY (59): Dylan Dockery 18, Jerick Varner 17, Jake Lindsay 6, Ben Conard 6, Seth Lovell 5, Christopher Huff 4, Kimbel Thornton 3.

CHEROKEE (57): Tanner Trent 20, Jacob Watson 11, Bailiff  9, Teagan Trent 10, Parker  4, Gibson 3, Cowan 0.

3-point FG: CC (2-of-10): Huff, Thornton. Cherokee 8 (Tanner Trent 3, Watson 2, Bailiff 1, Teagan Trent 1, Gibson 1).

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