Ryan Bledsoe scored 27 points, including both the game-saving and game-winning scores, to lead Cherokee to a 73-72 triple- overtime win over rival Volunteer in Monday’s District 1-AAA boys basketball play-in game at David Crockett.
The game featured two unlikely rallies, Volunteer coming from 11 points behind in the fourth quarter to force overtime and the Chiefs coming from seven down in the second overtime. Cherokee (11-15) advanced to face Daniel Boone on Wednesday night.
Sophomore Collin Trent scored 15 points in what Cherokee coach Ty Webb called his coming-out party, and Bronson Shipley added 12.
Bledsoe hit a pair of free throws to put the Chiefs ahead by three with five seconds left, and Volunteer’s Mason Reeves scored on a layup on the other end for the game’s final points.
“What a crazy game,” Webb said. “This shows the resiliency of the guys. They didn’t quit and they came away with the win. Ryan didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, but when it was crunch time, he came up with the big baskets for us. But everybody contributed for us.
“Any time you play those guys, you know it’s going to come down to the last possession. They made big shots and we matched them with big shots. We knew when we got up on those guys, they weren’t going to stop. It’s always fun in these rivalry games, but this is a special one in the conference tournament.”
A BIG DEAL
Jacob Deal, a senior post, scored 33 points to lead the Falcons (7-21). He spurred the comeback from a 49-38 deficit heading into the fourth quarter and helped the Falcons take control in the second overtime.
“We think he’s one of the premier players in this area and he’s been our go-to guy all year long,” Volunteer coach Greg Barnett said. “He’s a special kid who works hard and does things the right way. Tonight is a testament to him and his family.”
Both teams had chances to win earlier in the game.
Bledsoe missed a 3- pointer with three seconds left and Leyton Patrick’s heave for Volunteer from the opposite end of the court rimmed out at the end of regulation.
Deal had a steal off the inbounds at the end of the first overtime and then missed a 3 at the buzzer.
It was Cherokee’s turn to rally in the second overtime, coming back from a seven-point deficit to tie. Bledsoe hit a 3-point shot and then knocked down the game-tying jump shot with four seconds left.
BLEDSOE ON A TEAR
Bledsoe, a junior guard, scored all eight of the Chiefs’ points in the third overtime and their last 13 overall. He credited his coaching staff for the team’s unlikely rally from seven points down with less than two minutes to go in the second overtime.
“We have coach to thank for that and the conditioning he puts us through,” Bledsoe said. “It was all heart. Our seniors didn’t want that to be their last game and I didn’t want it to be their last game either. We just want to take this as far as we can.”
The Falcons didn’t hold a lead until Jeremiah Shearer’s bucket with 1:18 left in the game. Reeves scored 19 points for the Falcons and Shearer finished with nine.
“It’s a testament to my guys,” Barnett said. “They don’t quit and they keep coming at you. They’ve played that way all year long and they gave me everything they had. That’s just the character of those kids. A couple of times, we could have folded the tents and packed it in, but they didn’t want to lose.”
Volunteer 46, Crockett 39
Allie Parsons had a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead Volunteer to the win in the play-in game.
Parsons’ total included an old-fashioned three-point play to give the Lady Falcons a 32-31 lead after David Crockett’s Cassidy Rupert hit a shot at the buzzer to put the Lady Pioneers up 31-29 at the end of the third quarter.
“She was a warrior tonight, a real difference-maker for our team,” Volunteer coach Tracy Cloninger said of Parsons. “She fought hard and rebounded the basketball. She ended with a double-double and she’s had that capability all year.”
Volunteer (8-22) advanced to face No. 3 seed Dobyns-Bennett on Wednesday night.
The Lady Pioneers (7-20) were outscored 17-8 in the final quarter.
“We came out flat and never recovered,” Crockett coach Marty Story said. “They kept punching us in the mouth and we tried to withstand it, but there was lazy defense, no help and poor rebounding. We did all the things you’re not supposed to do.”
Emma Gouge led Crockett with a game-high 16 points, but the next- highest scorers were Bayleigh Day with six and Halle Scott with five.
Volunteer got 10 points from Kenady Knittel, eight from Chloe Salyer and seven from Atlee Dean. The Lady Falcons made the most of scoring opportunities, going 22-for-33 from the free-throw line.
“There are three things we try to win every game, the turnover ratio, at the free-throw line and rebounds,” Cloninger said. “We went 22-of-33 at the free-throw line and we get 35 rebounds so it was a good night.”
It was closely contested throughout with the biggest margins at the end. Crockett led just 13-10 at the end of the first quarter, only to see the Lady Falcons claw their way back to a 22-20 halftime advantage.
The victory was huge for Cloninger’s Lady Falcons after a long season.
"That's huge. It feels like everything wrong has happened to us," Cloninger said. "It seems like something has hung over the cylinder since the beginning of January.
“For us to see the shots fall and good things happen, it's huge momentum for us. No matter what happens Wednesday, it helps us go out on a high note for next year."