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Twice is Nice: CCHS takes down No. 7 Gatlinburg-Pittman for second time this year

Cocke County seniors Seth Lovell (at right) and Jerick Varner celebrate a first half basket in Monday’s non-district win over Gatlinburg-Pittman High School. The win over the No. 7 ranked Highlanders completed the season sweep and gave G-P only their third loss of the year. For more photos, visit and view our photo gallery.
Published: 10:48 AM, 01/21/2014 Last updated: 10:49 AM, 01/21/2014

Author: Caleb Chrisman
Source: The Newport Plain Talk

NEWPORT—The Cocke County basketball squad looked like a team on a mission Monday night.

The Fighting Cocks completed the season sweep of Gatlinburg-Pittman with an 88-74 victory over the AP No. 7, Class AA Highlanders as Jake Lindsay led the way with 25 points. The loss was only the Highlanders third of the season, all by Cocke County teams following last week’s Cosby win over the state’s seventh ranked team in Class AA.

Jerick Varner also poured in 22 points and grabbed 16 rebounds for Cocke County. Seth Lovell added 12, and Dylan Dockery was also in double figures with 11 points.

It seemed every single player on the Fighting Cocks (14-9) roster was doing their best to make sure they walked out of the gym with a victory.

Cocke County outrebounded the Highlanders (19-3) 43-33 and also finished with 16 assists. The Fighting Cocks also nailed 10 three pointers throughout the night.

"My challenge to them before the game was that we have to get back to being scrappy on defense," Cocke County head coach Ray Evans said. "Our inconsistencies after watching film all weekend is whether we're playing hard on defense or not. That's the reason we're up and down every other game.

"I challenged them tonight and said let's get off the roller coaster, be consistent. In order for us to be consistent, we just have to play hard on defense. It got us in some foul trouble a little bit with Dockery in the first half, but the guys on the bench came in and picked him up like they're supposed to. This was probably the best we've played as a team all year."

Cocke County led 19-12 after a quarter, and a Lindsay layup late in the first half helped propel the Big Red to a 44-32 lead heading into the half.

After stretching the lead to 16 in the third on a Lindsay three from the corner, the Highlanders came charging back, and they trailed just 64-59 heading into the fourth.

Gatlinburg-Pittman cut the lead to just three early in the fourth, but their leading scorer Clay Leatherwood fouled out shortly thereafter. Leatherwood scored 23 points, but missed the final six minutes after picking up his fifth foul, on a double foul.

The Highlanders never recovered, as Cocke County went on a 7-0 run to push the lead back to 10.

"We're a very good three-point shooting team when we penetrate and kick out. We're not a very good three-point shooting team when we just dribble down and shoot it," Evans said. "We got back to just doing the basics. Driving down and kicking it to Hunter (Suggs). He made a few. Jake made a few. Heck, even Varner made a few. But that's the same thing. Driving down and then kicking it out in transition. And when you're in rhythm, I don't mind any of them shooting threes. Overall, this was just a great team effort."

After Gatlinburg-Pittman cut the lead to five with 3:35 left, the Big Red closed the game on an 11-2 run to pull away once again.

The fourth quarter also turned into a free throw shooting contest. Both teams combined to shoot 70
free throws on the night. The Fighting Cocks shot 40 while the Highlanders had 30. Each team finished at 70 percent from the line.

The Fighting Cocks host AP No. 5, Class AAA Jefferson County on Friday evening. Tipoff with the Patriots is set for 8 p.m.

"We went down (to Jefferson County) and had it within six points around two and a half minutes to go after a bad start," Evans said. "If we can get off to a good start, I think we can be there at the end. This is our home floor. It's going to be homecoming night. If we show up like we did (Monday), I think we'll handle Jefferson County.

"We need a huge crowd here. This is such a crucial game, and I'm sending a message to all of our students especially. We need as many as possible to pack the stands on Friday night to make it as loud as it can possibly get. This is a great atmosphere, especially when we have a ton of students there to support."

COCKE COUNTY (88): Jake Lindsay 25, Jerick Varner 22, Seth Lovell 12, Dylan Dockery 11, Hunter Suggs 9, Ben Conard 7, Sam Hooper 2

GATLINBURG-PITTMAN (74): Clay Leatherwood 23, Steffan Schroeder 21,  Thomas Mackey 11, Gabe Hinton 5, Riley Trotter 4, Zayquan Gillespie 4, Noah Clinton 3, Carlos Sweegey 3

3-Point Field Goals: GP (5) Leatherwood 3, Schroeder, Mackey. CC (10) Lindsay 3, Varner 2, Suggs 2, Lovell, Dockery, Conard.

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