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Tribe busts loose after halftime, runs past Chiefs

Tanner Cook • Jan 5, 2019 at 3:51 AM

KINGSPORT — The four-day break between games for the Dobyns-Bennett boys basketball team might have affected the Indians in the first half, but a strong push in the third quarter was the difference for the Tribe on Friday night.

After being tied at 31 at the half, D-B ran away from Big 7 Conference foe Cherokee, winning 85-50 inside the Buck Van Huss Dome.

The Indians (14-2, 3-0) had five players finish in double digits, led by senior Riamello Wadsworth’s 17 points. Jared Strickland had 14, Marae Foreman and Abiah Releford each had 13 and Charlie Browder threw in 12 for the Tribe.

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Ryan Bledsoe netted a game-high 20 points for Cherokee (4-14, 0-4).

“We have to execute better defensively,” said D-B coach Chris Poore. “I was not pleased with our defensive intensity (in the first half). Our rotations were slow and our on-ball pressure was not there. They were helping blind.

“At halftime, the message was to get back to what we do. We lock up defensively, pressure the basketball and help our guys out. We got the ball out and attacked on offense. Abiah played huge in that third quarter. He had his hands on everything.”

At halftime, Foreman was presented with a basketball and a photo commemorating scoring his 1,000th career point, which came against Gate City in the Arby’s Classic on Monday.

“I’ve seen growth in (Marae) that I haven’t seen in anybody. He has really bought into being a great player,” Poore said. “To get 1,000 points at Dobyns-Bennett is quite an honor. To have his brother (Malik) with him in that group and present him with his awards was pretty special.”

Coming out of the locker room, the Indians played better all around and outscored Cherokee 54-19 in the second half.

A string of turnovers and bad shots plagued the Chiefs.

“We came out and did a really good job executing to start,” Chiefs coach Ty Webb said. “The guys were moving with a lot of energy. In the third quarter, it looked like our legs ran out of gas. They’ve got a lot of bodies and they can stay fresh. ...

“The final score was 35 points, but it felt a lot closer. I think we’re growing as a team. As (Bledsoe) goes offensively, it’s just going to make us better. Breiydon Gilliam is scoring more and Wyatt Watson is playing well. We’ll be OK if those guys continue to develop come tournament time in February.”

LADY INDIANS WIN AGAIN

Cherokee got a game-high 28 points from senior point guard Harper Russell, but the Lady Indians’ ball pressure carried them to a 62-41 win over the Lady Chiefs.

In a big conference “prove it” game for Cherokee (12-5, 2-2), the Lady Chiefs hung with D-B, except for the second quarter. Cherokee had a string of four possessions with ill-advised shots and D-B’s transition game led the Tribe to a 15-3 advantage in that crucial period.

D-B (14-3, 3-0) got 24 points from Courtney Whitson, and Caitlyn Wallace chipped in with 11. Whitson hit her 2,000th point in a tournament in Florida over Christmas.

“It was good to get back into our gym,” D-B coach Bill Francis said. “In the first quarter and even later in the game, I was a little disappointed in our ball-handling. Some of that comes from not really practicing a lot and having a lot of games.

“Courtney is a kid that has earned everything she’s got. She’s got a lot of natural ability, but she gets in the gym and works.

“After our season ended last year, I sat down with her to talk more about playing guard and playing more on the wing. She liked the idea, but I told her that she would have to develop her 3-point shot more,” Francis noted. “She came in from the offseason and is now one of our best 3-point shooter.”

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