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Fighting Cocks hold on to beat Chiefs

CCHS senior Hunter Suggs, pictured in Monday night’s win at Morristown East, capped off his 13-point night against Cherokee by sinking the game-winner in the final minute.
Published: 3:18 PM, 01/16/2014 Last updated: 3:19 PM, 01/16/2014

Author: Adam Greene
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

NEWPORT—It took nearly all 32 minutes to decide it, but a perfectly run offensive play from the Cocke County boys basketball team would get the win on Tuesday night.

With the score tied and less than a minute to go, the Fighting Cocks ran their bread-and-butter offensive play like they never have before. Hunter Suggs came open under the rim and put in the winning shot and drew a foul to secure a 50-48 win.

“That’s one of our base plays and we’ve run it quite a bit this year,” Cocke County coach Ray Evans said. “I told them that was the best we’ve ever run that play.

“Usually when we run it, we’re kind of lazy about it and don’t really attack,” Evans said. “We attacked it tonight and that’s what got us the layup and the foul. I was very proud of them. A couple of seniors stepped up tonight in the fourth quarter and made some plays.”

The Fighting Cocks (13-8, 6-3 District 2-AAA) have won three of their last four games and two straight at the wire.  Tuesday night’s loss was the fourth straight for Cherokee (7-15. 2-6).

“This was two in a row,” Evans said. “We hit a buzzer-beater to beat East and then again tonight.
“This is two character-building games for us,” Evans said. “It should give us some confidence going forward and help us at tournament time too.”

Though the Chiefs have been reeling, they found their footing in the second half against Cocke County. After trailing 23-20 at the half, Cherokee capitalized on opportunities at the free throw line to keep the game within three at the end of the third. In the fourth, thanks to some big shots from Keaton Bailiff, the Chiefs took the lead. Bailiff finished with 16 points.

“We put them at the free throw line way too much in the second half,” Evans said. “We were getting out of position on defense and reaching in a little bit every now and then. On the other end we were missing. As a team we we’ve shot close to 70 percent all year and tonight we weren’t even close to that.”

With the game on the line and Jerick Varner in foul trouble, the Fighting Cocks leaned on Dylan Dockery and he delivered. Dockery scored 25 points in the game and 11 in the second half. Dockery has scored 20 points or more in the four games in five days stretch, and is averaging 23.3 points per night in that span.

Varner was more of a factor in the second, but still finished the game with just eight points. Cocke County’s struggles the free throw line kept the Chiefs in the game until the end.  The Fighting Cocks were 14–of-27 at the line in the game.

Suggs came up big in the fourth to help Cocke County retake the lead, starting things off with two straight threes. Still, it was the perfect execution of the right play call at the end that won the day.

“That’s the whole mindset I’ve tried to instill into them all year” Evans said. “When you go on the attack on offense, we’re hard to guard. Sometimes we guard ourselves a lot and just go through the motions. When we move like that, there’s not going to be many teams that can stop us.”

Suggs finished with 13 points.  Tanner Trent led Cherokee with 18. 

Cocke County travels to Morristown West (9-10, 4-5) Friday at 8 p.m. 

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