On Thursday against Sand Rock in the Cherokee Invitational Tournament, the Warriors proved they still have some fight left in them.
After getting off to another rocky start in the first quarter, the Warriors dug in and went on a 14-0 run to end the opening quarter to take an 11-point lead.
Cherokee County managed to hold on and claim a 57-47 victory, propelling the Warriors to Friday’s tournament semifinals where they will face Spring Garden at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena at 3:15 p.m.
Spring Garden easily earned its spot in the tournament semifinals with a 71-28 victory over Gaylesville.
“No matter how this season’s been going, we’ve still got a goal this week that we want to win this invitational,” Cherokee County coach Travis Barnes said. “Tonight they took a big step forward. I think our guys are really starting to come together. This was our second win, and it was a team win. I’m just proud of our guys. We were 1-11, and they could have just folded up shop for this year, but they’re really challenging for this invitational tournament.”
Sand Rock coach Brian Mackey said Cherokee County “just out-played us.”
“We shot ourselves in the foot with turnovers and giving them second shots,” Mackey said. “We didn’t box out and do what we were supposed to. We jumped on them, then they went on a run. From then on, we played behind the whole game.”
Leading the charge for the Warriors (2-11) was senior guard JoJo Diamond. He netted a game-high 22 points, including four 3-pointers, had three rebounds and seven deflections on defense.
Not bad for a guy who’s recovering from the flu.
“This is the first day he’s felt better,” Barnes said. “He hasn’t practiced all week. I was kind of surprised by him. I didn’t start him tonight because he has missed practice, but as soon as I put him in he made an immediate impact, especially his outside shooting.”
Three of Diamond’s treys came in the first quarter. Sand Rock (5-6) had jumped out to a 7-0 lead, but thanks to Diamond, the Warriors closed out the opening quarter on a 14-0 run to take a 20-9 lead. Cherokee County managed to take a 32-22 lead into halftime before foul trouble caught up with them, and Sand Rock capitalized.
The Wildcats went on a 17-9 run in the third to cut their deficit to a bucket at 41-39 heading into the fourth quarter.
What Diamond began, Warrior junior guard Darius Covington finished. Covington connected on 6 of his 8 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter, helping Cherokee County capture the win.
Covington finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and three assists.
“In the first three quarters, we shot one free throw, and I challenged the guys in the fourth quarter to really try and drive to the basket and get to the free-throw line,” Barnes said. “Darius handled the ball at the end and got them to foul him. He knocked them down, and that prevented them from getting back closer in the game.”
Tony Pruitt contributed eight points, eight boards and five steals for the Warriors. Nahum Whorton finished with six points and seven rebounds.
Sand Rock junior guard Dylan Mackey led the Wildcats with 19 points, including three treys. Joel Brock added 11 points and Dakota Mabry finished with six points.
The Wildcats look to rebound in the consolation bracket on Friday when they take on Gaylesville at 11:30 a.m. at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena.
The following is a recap of Thursday’s boys tournament action.
Collinsville 69, Piedmont 64
CENTRE – Deshawn Moore led four players in double figures, helping Class 1A, No. 3 Collinsville capture a 69-64 victory over Class 3A Piedmont in the opening round of the Cherokee Invitational Tournament Thursday at Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena.
Moore tallied a game-high 28 points to pace the Panthers (8-1). David Hernandez, Jalyn Martin and Brady Osborn each contributed 10 points. Davey Posey finished with nine points.
Darnell Jackson led Piedmont (3-7) with 16 points. Denard Spears added 14 points. Caleb Adams, Neonta Alexander and Dreek Thompson all finished with six points for the Bulldogs.
Collinsville jumped out to a 13-4 lead at the end of the first quarter and held a 27-16 advantage at halftime. Piedmont managed to cut its deficit to 47-41 at the end of the third quarter and outscored Collinsville 23-22 in the fourth, but still came up short.
Collinsville advances to meet Class 3A Glencoe in the tournament semifinals on Friday at 7 p.m. Piedmont drops to the consolation bracket where it will face Cedar Bluff on Friday at 2 p.m.
Glencoe 72, Cedar Bluff 42
CENTRE – Anthony Morris netted 23 points, Austin Hancock added 13 and Dillon Tidmore finished with 10 points to lead Class 3A Glencoe to a 72-42 victory over Cedar Bluff in the opening round of the Cherokee Invitational Tournament on Thursday.
After trailing the Tigers (7-4) 12-11 at the end of the first quarter, the Yellow Jackets (8-3) went on a 25-7 run in the second to take a 36-19 lead into halftime. Glencoe held a 52-33 advantage heading into the fourth quarter and closed out the game on a 20-9 run.
DeAngelo Hardy led Cedar Bluff with 22 points. No other Tiger player reached double figures.
Glencoe advances to the tournament semifinals where it will meet Collinsville on Friday at 7 p.m. Cedar Bluff takes on Piedmont in the consolation bracket at 2 p.m.
Spring Garden 71, Gaylesville 28
CENTRE – The Spring Garden Panthers connected on 10 3-pointers (seven in the first half) and cruised to a 71-28 victory over Gaylesville in the opening round of the Cherokee Invitational Tournament on Thursday at Cherokee County High School.
Josh Hale led the charge for the Panthers (8-3) with 27 points, including four 3-pointers. Jay Prater sank five treys and tallied 15 points. Jake Grogan added 10 points and eight rebounds. Will Ivey finished with eight points, seven steals and four boards.
Gable Lawson led Gaylesville (1-8) with 15 points, including three treys. Will Callan finished with seven points.
Spring Garden advances to the tournament semifinals, where it will take on Cherokee County at 4:30 p.m. in the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena. Gaylesville drops to the consolation bracket where it will face Sand Rock at 11:30 a.m.