The Cherokee boys basketball team dealt Volunteer a 68-51 defeat Saturday night. In the dressing room, Falcons coach Todd Whittemore couldn’t hide his disappointment.
“This hurts. It’s a painful loss,’’ he said. “I believe it’s the first time we’ve been swept by Cherokee since I’ve been coaching here.
“It’s a pride thing, and we got our pride taken away from us. Our players are hurting. Cherokee came in and made us look bad on our home floor.’’
A near-capacity crowd was vocal throughout.
Balanced scoring by Cherokee (10-12) was decisive because the Falcons (7-15) weren’t hitting outside shots or rebounding on the offensive end.
The Chiefs’ Wes Horton got 12 of his team-leading 18 points in the opening half. Cherokee tossed in eight goals from the 3-point arc, with Horton getting four.
“Wes has been our leader in a lot of ways this year,’’ Cherokee coach Jeremy Parrott said.
Others chimed in after the halftime break to discourage a Volunteer comeback. Matt Hale scored 14, Logan Bailiff 11 and Josh Steward 10.
“We just happened to shoot well at critical times,’’ Parrott said. “Any time (the Falcons) got close, we’d make a basket. Our whole team played well. We got help from our bench.
“This is a hostile environment — a hard place for us to get a win. We were fortunate enough to do it.’’
The Chiefs had beaten Cocke County on Thursday night 73-63 in a mild upset.
“I was a little worried about our legs. being on the floor two nights in a row,’’ Parrott noted. “We wanted to shorten the game a bit and played zone defense. I think Volunteer prepared all week for man-to-man and was confused by it.’’
Only Chris Parker, with a game-high 19 points, and Aaron Bennett, with 11, reached double figures for the Falcons. Cold-shooting Volunteer was 3-for-23 behind the 3-point line. The Falcons missed 10 free throws in the first half.
“If you’re not hitting shots, you need to be crashing the boards and getting rebounds,’’ Whittemore said. “It’s a long night when you don’t do either.
“We’re going to keep plugging,” he added. “I still think we can put things together.’’
Volunteer’s girls pulled out a pulsating 49-44 win in the night’s opener.
With 1:10 left to play, Lindsee Price’s layup off a steal put the Lady Chiefs ahead 43-42. Volunteer’s Shanque Price countered with a layup 17 seconds later. Cherokee tied the score with a free throw.
Volunteer’s Ashley Lindholm and Jessie O’Dell then combined to sink five free throws in the last 33 seconds, sealing the win.
“It’s a big rivalry and everybody gets excited,’’ Volunteer coach Jerry Myers said. “We made a lot of mistakes. I was pleased that we were able to reclaim the lead. Ashley and Jessie made some big free throws.’’