SHELBY— It was a terrific night for hoops here at the Isaiah Peterson Gymnasium on the campus of Broad Street High School Saturday.
The public schools competed for three nights in the 10th annual Bolivar County Hardwood Classic and when the dust settled the Cleveland High Lady Wildcats and the Shaw Hawks stood atop the pile as this year’s champions.
It was the first time the Lady Wildcats have won the countywide tournament since it was restarted in 2006. They did so with a 65-63 win over the Shaw Lady Hawks.
On the boy’s side the Hawks defeated the John F. Kennedy Hornets 72-59 for their second championship since 2006.
Cleveland High head coach Jenny McCullough was proud of the way her team performed overall in the tournament.
“We had a couple of tough games against two really good teams. This group of girls never ceases to amaze me on the court. They never let anything get to them. They are always calm, cool and collective and with everything we had to fight through tonight proved that,” said McCullough.
No players exemplified McCullough sentiments better than seniors Taylor Collins and Kaitlin Thompson.
Thompson led the team with 22 points with 15 rebounds and Collins added 14 points with 10 rebounds.
The Lady Wildcats came out blazing in the opening quarter, but Shaw used full court pressure to force turnovers and get some easy baskets that led to a 21-14 Cleveland High advantage heading into the second quarter.
Shaw outscored Cleveland 18-14 in the second quarter to only trail the Lady Wildcats 35-32 at the break.
With under five-minutes left to play Cleveland held a 56-50 lead, but a 9-0 run from the Lady Hawks put Cleveland behind 59-56 with 2:40 left in the game.
With under two-minutes left to play the Lady Hawks held a 61-60 lead and had the ball, but Collins came up with a steal and sprinted to the basket, but was fouled. She made one-of-two freebies to tie the game at 61-61 with 1:36 left to play.
Shaw’s Jacoria Smith missed a three-point shot and Cleveland rebounded, Collins was fouled and again split the free throws, but gave Cleveland the lead at 62-61 with 53-seconds on the clock.
With 46-seconds left, Shaw’s Aleghsa Haywood was fouled and made both free throws for a 63-62 Shaw lead.
Once again Collins came through for the Lady Wildcats and worked the baseline for a layup and the lead at 64-63 with 34-seconds left in the game.
On Shaw’s next possession, Collins was called for a foul on Raven James. The foul was her fifth and disqualified her from the contest.
James missed the front end of the one-and-one and with 14-seconds left Cleveland’s other senior Brittany Brown was fouled. She split her free throws to give Cleveland a 65-63 lead.
It was all on the Cleveland defense and it was Thompson who made the stop as she blocked the shot attempt from the Lady Hawks into the arms of teammate Alana Griffin who was able to run out the clock and claim the victory.
Griffin joined the Cleveland scorers with 12 points and Antonisha Wade added nine points in the win.
On the Boys side it was first as well as the John F. Kennedy Hornets made their first appearance in the tournament championship.
In the boys game the Hawks got off to a great start leading the Hornets 10-0 to begin the first quarter.
Kennedy head coach Kenji Peterson called a timeout and inserted freshman point guard Shammod Strickland who quickly made his presence felt with a three-point shot with 3:30 left in the period.
Strickland quickly changed the game with his ability to penetrate the Hawks defense and find the open shooter, which happened to be his older brother Khalil Strickland who was able to knock down back-to-back three points shots for a 12-9 ball game.
The older Strickland scored seven more points to give JFK a 16-12 lead.
Shaw’s Mario Haywood made a pair of free throws and Willie Peagues made a free throw for a 16-15 ball game.
JFK’s Fred Haywood knock down two free throws to give the Hornets a 18-15 lead, but Anthony Davis Jr. had the answer for Shaw with a long three point shot to tie the game at 18-18 to end the first quarter.
The game went back and fourth in the second quarter and the Hornets found themselves with a 28-26 lead, but the Hawks went on a 10-0 run to end the first half and took a 38-28 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
With the run to close out the second quarter and by outscoring the Hornets 15-11 in the third, Shaw was able to take a 51-39 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the final period the teams traded baskets as Shaw outscored JFK 21-20, but Shaw had already done the damage earlier as they claimed their second Bolivar County _championship.
Davis Jr. led the Hawks with 18 points, Haywood had 16 points (14-of-17 from the free throw line), Chris Freeman had 12 points and Jermarquis Stimage added 10 points in the win.
Kentrell Starks led JFK with 24 points, Khalil had 20 points and Haywood chipped in with nine points.
Consolation Game Girls
West Bolivar 46,
East Side 32
The West Bolivar Lady Eagles improved to 9-6 and finished third in the Bolivar County Tournament Saturday with a win over the East Side Trojanettes. Jermilia Silas led WB with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Rachel Hudson had 17 points.
Alex Bailey led East Side with 13 points.
Consolation Game Boys
Cleveland High Boys 38,
East Side 37
The Cleveland High Wildcats improved to 10-6 while the East Side Trojans fell to 3-10 on the year after Saturday’s Bolivar County Tournament Consolation game.
Ellis Townsend led CHS with 14 points and 12 rebounds and Quintiyus Causey added 12 points.
Kamarion Williams led East Side with 22 points and 11 rebounds.