It was a great night of basketball here in Cleveland.
The Cleveland Central High School Wolves and Lady Wolves tipped off Region 3-5A play hosting the Canton Tigers and Lady Tigers Tuesday at the Margaret Wade Gymnasium.
Both contests came down to the wire, but at the end of the line the Wolves and Lady Wolves were on the losing end.
The Wolves fell 50-49, while the Lady Wolves dropped their game 38-35.
The Wolves fell to 13-4 overall with a 0-1 mark in the region. The Tigers are now 17-2 with a 3-0 region mark. The Lady Wolves fell to 11-4 with a 0-1 mark in the region while the Lady Tigers improved to 12-5 and 2-0 in the region.
The Lady Wolves came out on fire in the first quarter scoring the game’s first six points. CCHS led Canton 14-6 at the end of the first quarter.
The Lady Tigers returned the favor in the second half scoring the period's first six points, closing the gap to 14-12. By the end of the first half, Cleveland led 20-18.
Cleveland maintained control in the third quarter and was able to cling to a 29-27 lead.
Antonisha Wade scored on a short jump shot to start the fourth quarter to give the Lady Wolves a 31-27 lead.
Canton responded by scoring seven unanswered points to take a 34-31 advantage.
The Lady Tigers were able to keep CCHS at bay for the remainder of the quarter and with two-minutes remaining Canton held a 37-33 lead.
Cleveland Central had several chances to close the gap, tie the game and take the lead at the charity stripe, but the team connected on only 2-of-6 down the stretch for a 37-35 game.
"The free throws really hurt us tonight," Lady Wolves head coach Whitney Williams said. “Our defensive intensity really fell off in the second half. We stopped attacking the basket and at the end of the game we gave up easy layups not getting back down the court.”
CCHS made an attempt to foul Canton at the end of the game, but Wade grabbed Morgan Williams' jersey and flung her to the floor resulting in an intentional foul. This gave Canton two-free throws and the ball. Williams made one free throw for a 38-35 score.
Cleveland Central's defense picked up and Wade ended up with the ball and raced down court, but couldn't get a shot off before time expired.
Wade led Cleveland Central with 12 points, followed by Olecia James with eight and Mariah Howard with seven.
Williams led the Lady Tigers with nine points, followed by Deshuntaenae Sykes with eight and Iyania Davis with seven.
The boys’ contest lived up to the pre-game hype. The matchup between Cleveland Central's Dandy Dozen selection Kamarian Williams and Canton's Javion Fleming was worth the price of admission.
Williams had the bigger night finishing with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Fleming had 12 points.
In the opening quarter, it was the Williams versus Fleming show. Fleming scored the game's first basket, but Williams followed with a three-point basket for a 3-2 Cleveland lead. Fleming scored two baskets back-to-back for a 6-3 lead, but Williams answered with another basket for a 6-5 game.
At the end of the first quarter, Canton led 14-9. Williams had all nine of Cleveland's points.
The second quarter featured Cleveland Central’s Quintiyus Causey catching fire and scoring the team's first eight points including a couple of back-to-back three point shots.
Despite Cleveland Central's good shooting, Canton was more impressive increasing its lead to 33-23 at halftime.
In the second half, the Wolves came out in man-to-man defense and the switch paid immediate dividends as they outscored the Tigers 10-2 to start the third quarter for a 35-33 game.
Sebron Carter was fouled while scoring a layup. Carter made the free throw to complete the three-point play and give Canton a 38-33 lead.
Williams answered with a score for a 38-35 game but Tillian Hutton scored a basket for Canton to inflate the Tigers’ cushion to 40-35. Cleveland's Peyton Taylor scored a layup and Leroy Cotton III converted a three-point play to tie the game at 40-40.
The quarter continued and Canton held a 44-41 lead going into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, the defensive pressure picked up from both teams.
Canton stretched its lead to 48-44. On the next three possessions, Cleveland Central stopped them and each time on the offensive end Cleveland was fouled and went to the free throw line.
Tyler Williams made one of two free throws on his first trip for a 48-45 game. Tyler was fouled again, but missed the front end of the one-and-one leaving the score at 48-45. Cleveland stopped Canton again and again, and Tyler was fouled one more time. He made one of two free throws to close the score to 48-46.
Fleming made a basket for a 50-46 lead, but, Cleveland's Cotton knocked down a three-point shot to make the score 50-49.
Canton had the ball at the end of the game, but Tyler came up with a steal to get the ball back to Cleveland.
As the seconds ticked off the clock, Cotton let a three-point shot fly that fell short, but again Tyler was there to get the rebound and give the Wolves’ another chance. Head coach Bernard Berryhill called a timeout and drew up a final play with 10 seconds left in regulation.
Cotton took the ball out and got it to Causey who got it to Taylor. Taylor penetrated the defense and got into the lane and released the ball off the glass. As time expired the ball hit the backboard and rimmed out to end the ball game in heartbreaking fashion for Cleveland.
"I'm elated and excited about tonight," said Berryhill. “I had fun and I hoped they had fun. I know they feel the effects of the outcome of the game, but you couldn't ask for a better effort.”
Joining Kamarion was Causey with 11 points and Cotton with eight. Canton received 17 points from Damerius Wash and 13 points from Carter.