ROGERSVILLE - Crossing over from the Big 9 Conference to face an Inter-Mountain Athletic Conference high school you've already beaten can be a perilous journey.
Sullivan South ran into a double ambush Monday night, losing to Cherokee in both the boys' and girls' basketball games.
Cherokee (14-12), the IMAC's biggest surprise, defeated South's boys 60-35 to atone for a 57-39 loss suffered in Kingsport on Jan. 6.
The Chiefs, who were picked last in their conference, appear headed for second place in the IMAC.
"I've been pleased with what these guys have accomplished,'' Cherokee coach Jeremy Parrott said. "We've played a hard schedule. We close out Friday night against Cocke County and, with a 5-4 conference record, it looks like we could get the No. 2 spot.''
Brian Milan scored 14 points and Darren Haun hit 10 to lead the Chiefs' balanced attack. B.D. Snow, suspended for missing practice, sat out the first half of the game.
South fell behind early and trailed by as many as 14 points. Except for an 8-0 run at the close of the third quarter, the Rebels were never in serious contention.
The Rebels seem to have a revolving door leading to the infirmary. It has been one injury after another all season long.
Guard Matthew Crowe returned to the team against Cherokee, but center Reid Powell, still nursing a sore back, sat out along with the injured Dustin Sims and Curtis Tingle.
Aaron Willey, South's top offensive player, twisted his knee during a fall in the first half. After a brief stay on the bench, he got back in the game but failed to get in sync.
"I think Cherokee was ready for us,'' South coach Mark Pendleton said. "A lack of rebounding kept us from pushing the ball downfloor in the first half. We were successful doing that against them the first time we met.
"Our shooting percentage wasn't very good, and we didn't have much of an inside scoring threat.''
Cherokee was up 35-21 when Willey and Henry Ringley combined for eight points to pull South within six at 35-29.
Cherokee then went on a rampage - sparked by Snow, Milan and Haun. Late in the game, the Chiefs penetrated for most of their points.
"I was disappointed with our effort on the boards,'' Parrott said. "Every time we were ready to shut the door, we refused to rebound and let them hang around. The fact they'd beaten us earlier was a motivating factor.''
Haun and Milan are the only returnees from last year's 16-10 team.
"We've worked hard trying to win more than we lose,'' Parrott said. "Our bench has been playing well.''
Ashlee Price calmly sank two free throws with 9.4 seconds remaining to give the Cherokee girls a 54-53 revenge win over South.
The Lady Chiefs survived two missed shots by South in the last three seconds. Samantha Williams, who led South with 18 points, had Price and Savannah Ewing breathing on her as she attempted an 18-footer that would have won the game. South was unable to put back an offensive rebound.
"We thought Williams would take the last shot,'' Cherokee coach Mitzi Price said. "We stopped her at the 3-point line. South managed to get an offside rebound. I guess it was just meant for us to win.''
Cherokee sizzled at the foul line, dropping in 22 of 25 free throws. Asia Avery made 13 of 14 freebies.
Avery and Price each had 15 points. Whitney Gilbert got her entire 10-point output in the opening half.
"We took awful shots in the first half,'' South coach Josh Tate said. "We hit a little better in the second half.''
South will observe senior night against Morristown East tonight.