The Falcons won the latest chapter of the “Battle of Hawkins County,” beating Cherokee 62-42 on Saturday night to end a losing streak that dates back to before the Arby’s Classic.
Cherokee’s girls preserved a varsity split, beating the Lady Falcons 66-50.
But a badly needed win for Volunteer’s boys was the big story of the night. The skid included three straight Big 9 Conference losses that sent the Falcons (7-10) tumbling into sixth in the league standings.
“Going through those tough times makes you really appreciate what a great feeling it is to win,” Falcons coach Todd Whittemore said. “There’s not enough wins in life. And when you come through a losing streak it makes you really appreciate when you do get one.”
Volunteer came out hot, hitting all three of its 3-pointers in the first quarter. Cherokee trailed 13-4 at the end of that period and never really recovered. The Falcons led 30-12 by halftime and carried a double-digit lead for the remainder.
Cherokee (6-12) mustered just 22 points through three quarters and slogged through an abysmal shooting night. The Chiefs shot 27 percent from the floor, including a drought of more than seven minutes in the first half without making a field goal.
“When you dig a hole against a team like that at home, that can take care of the ball like they can, it’s hard to dig out,” Cherokee coach Jeremy Parrott said. “Especially when we have trouble scoring anyway.”
Keith Cradic scored 24 points, going 15-for-16 from the free throw line. Aaron Bennett added 16 points.
Josh Daniels and Jordan Shively paced the Chiefs with 11 and 10 points, respectively, but all but two of those points came in the second half.
Volunteer made 23 free throws as a team and attempted 22 in the second half. Cherokee committed 10 fouls in the third quarter alone, and both teams combined for 52 personal fouls, including two technicals.
The Falcons won without post Javian Shivers, who started serving a two-game suspension after getting ejected for an intentional foul Friday night against Dobyns-Bennett.
Whittemore had some strong words for his sidelined big man.
“He’s got to get his head together,” the coach said. “If he wants to come back and help this team, he’s got to get his head on straight and help us by being a basketball player.”
In the girls’ game, Volunteer failed to make a shot from the floor in the final four minutes of the second quarter, and Cherokee capitalized to take a 35-23 lead into intermission.
From there, the Lady Chiefs (10-7) coasted.
“At times defense looked good,” Cherokee coach Mitzi Price said. “Full-court pressure was where it needs to be.
“We made sure we didn’t get a whole lot of 3s shot in our face.”
Ashlee Price’s 20 points led four Lady Chiefs in double digits. Casey Ryans had 14, Savannah Ewing 12 and Katianne Cupp 10.
Chanoa Bledsoe and Mackenzie Draine each scored 10 for Volunteer (2-12).