The state rankings do not seem to matter much to the South Greene boys, and on Friday night they completed the season sweep of Chuckey-Doak who is ranked No. 6 in Class 2A in the latest AP Poll.
The Rebels far from cruised to the victory, but they built a big enough lead early that the Black Knights could not overtake them late in a 74-69 win.
“I am unbelievably happy with the result tonight, but I am very much frustrated with the fact that we struggled down the stretch again,” South Greene coach Terry Hoese said. “We have to start finishing at the end of the game. We did a lot of bad things, but we had some kids step up as well. It’s been a while since we’ve won a district championship, and however we get it I’m very pleased with these guys. These kids have worked their butts off, and this is well deserved.”
With the win the Rebels secure the top seed in the upcoming District 1-2A Tournament. Chuckey-Doak will be the two seed.
South Greene came out of the gate playing with fire and intensity on the defensive end. The effort was sparked by T.J. Buckner in the post as he provided some critical help on Chuckey-Doak big man Christian Derry while also being a force on glass. Led by his effort the Rebels held Chuckey-Doak to just six points in the first quarter.
“Our guys came out jacked up tonight and they were ready to go,” Hoese said. “T.J. was a huge part of that. If somebody misses, he usually isn’t going to give them a second chance. He can jump out of the gym, and he had that dunk early that kind of got the whole gym jacked up.”
South Greene’s did not get off to as strong of a start on the offensive end as Derry shut down the paint in the early going. The Rebels did get going with the outside shot and with 3:07 left in the opening period Cooper Kelley sank his first of six three-pointers for a 5-4 lead.
After the first shot went in Kelley began to start feeling confident from behind the arc and hit from deep three more times as South Greene’s lead grew to 16-6. Kelley finished the night with a game-high 24 points.
“Cooper was huge tonight, and if my assistant hadn’t played him the whole JV game he might have scored 34,” Hoese said jokingly. “Cooper came out on fire tonight to get us that lead, and that was huge.”
The second quarter began with Andrew Thornburg blocking a shot on one end of the floor which led to Jase Roderick breaking away for a layup on the other end.
Buckner then followed with a triple that put South Greene in front 21-8.
With 4:41 left in the first half Hunter Toth struck from deep to give South Greene a 26-10 advantage.
Chuckey-Doak finally got into a rhythm and went on a 9-2 run to close the gap to 28-19. Ethan Grindstaff and Derry both made tough shots through contact before Derry capped the run with a straight-away trey.
Derry would hit from behind the arc again before the quarter closed but South Greene held a 34-22 lead at half time.
Just over two minutes into the third quarter South Greene’s lead grew to 43-26 after Kelley and Thornburg sank three-pointers while Conner Marshall charged in from the left wing and rolled a slick finger roll.
Over the next five minutes the teams traded buckets with Kelley closing the stretch with a three-pointer that fell despite tight defense from Grindstaff for 51-36 advantage.
Over the final minute of the third quarter Chuckey-Doak outscored South Greene 7-2. Four of those points came in the final 15 seconds started by Isiah Treadway stealing possession at half court before going straight to the rim. Tullock then took the ball back by jumping a pass and set up Treadway for another bucket that closed the gap to 53-42.
The Knights made it a single-digit margin for the first time since there were eight seconds left in the first quarter when Grindstaff scored in transition 35 seconds into the final frame.
With 6:12 left Hayden Birdwell knocked down a three-pointer from the right corner to push South Greene’s advantage to 59-49.
Chuckey-Doak kept battling and one minute later Tullock finished off a steal from Treadway that closed the gap to 61-53. With 3:45 left to play Treadway stole the ball again and set up Tullock for another layup to get the Knights within five points at 63-58.
Birdwell gave the Rebels some breathing room at 68-59 with an ill-advised three-pointer that fell through. With 1:44 left to play Birdwell hit from deep again to make it 72-63. Birdwell scored 12 points on Friday and all of them came in the fourth quarter.
“Birdwell hit some big shots in the fourth quarter,” Hoese said. “I wanted to choke him when he took them, but he knocked them down, and they are all good shots if they go in.”
Chuckey-Doak got six points from Grindstaff in the final 1:11, but the Rebels were able to run enough time off the clock to secure the win despite going 2-of-8 at the foul line in that same stretch.
Derry led Chuckey-Doak on Friday with 23 points while scoring his 1,000th career point, Grindstaff had 17 points and Tullock put in 15.
Buckner and Thornburg were also in double figures for the Rebels with 10 points.
South Greene 56, Chuckey-Doak 41
The South Greene girls had a harder time than normal getting shots to fall on Friday night, but tough defense and dominant rebounding allowed the Lady Rebels to wrap up District 1-2A play with an unblemished 8-0 record.
With Friday’s 56-41 win over Chuckey-Doak the Lady Rebels secured the top seed in the upcoming district tournament while the Lady Knights will settle for the No.2 seed.
“The first stage is complete, you want to win the district, but it’s not the most important step,” South Greene coach Stephen Gregg said. “Each stage as you go up matters more and more, but we have set ourselves up for the best draw. Now we have to go win the second stage. We have a couple games left with North Greene and Unaka, and our goal is to get better defensively and grow as a team before we get to the tournament.”
In the early going Chuckey-Doak’s defense made it difficult for the Lady Rebels to get into a rhythm, and with 3:35 left in the opening frame Cortnee Jones knocked down a three-pointer to put the Lady Knights in front 9-6.
Hayleigh Hensley followed with a jumper from the top of the lane to put Chuckey-Doak in front 11-8. South Greene’ Jordyn Roderick then sank a jumper from the short corner after two offensive rebounds to narrow the margin to 11-10 heading to the second quarter.
Roderick had a huge night for South Greene with 16 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists. Led by Roderick’s effort South Greene outrebounded Chuckey-Doak 45-27 on Friday. Hailey Brooks was also double figures on the boards with 11 rebounds.
After nearly two scoreless minutes to start the second quarter Roderick gave South Greene the lead when she nailed a triple on an inbound play.
Ryleigh Gregg followed with a mid-range jumper and then Roderick earned three-points the hard way to push South Greene’s lead to 18-11.
With 2:45 left in the first half Chuckey-Doak’s Faith Yokley put back a miss to cut South Greene’s lead to 19-15.
Ari Hoese then entered the game and gave the Lady Rebels a much need spark by scoring nine points in 1:01 to put South Greene in front 28-18 at half time. She hit three-pointers from both wings and then was fouled putting back a miss for an old-fashioned-three-point play.
“That was really big from Ari. The first rotation she was in didn’t look too good, but we gave her another chance at the end of the first half. She gave us a really big spark that put us up 10 at the half. I think that will be good for her confidence moving forward,” Gregg said. “Jordyn got two fouls and had to go to the bench. We were looking for someone to step up, and Ari shined for us.”
Through the first seven minutes of the third quarter the teams traded points, and Chuckey-Doak was able to close the gap to 34-27 when Kennedy Brown knocked a three-pointer from the corner.
South Greene then closed the period on an 8-0 run in the final 59 seconds. Gregg drove the lane and scored through contact for three points. She then scored in transition after a steal by Brooks and Madison Hensley closed the period with a three-pointer that gave South Greene a 42-27 lead.
South Greene’s hot streak continued into the fourth quarter as it started the period on a 10-3 run. Roderick scored four points in the run while Hensley and Haley Susong both tapped layups off the glass.
With 3:06 left South Greene’s lead reached 20 points at 54-34 when Gregg got a layup to fall. That was South Greene’s final field goal, but it was able to stay in front and earn a 56-41 win.
Hoese finished with 11 points for South Greene and Hensley scored 10. Jones led Chuckey-Doak with 13 points.