CLINCHPORT — There have been plenty of near misses for Rye Cove’s boys basketball team so far this season. But when the Eagles got a shot at washing away six years of frustration on Tuesday night, they didn’t let another close game slip away.
Hunter McMahan was nearly unstoppable in the paint, Eric Hill sparked the decisive run with 10 points in the third quarter and Rye Cove beat its Scott County rival for the first time in six years.
McMahan and Hill had 15 points each to pace the Eagles, who picked up a key 53-40 victory over visiting Twin Springs in Cumberland District action.
“We’ve been in a lot of one-possession ballgames this year, and I feel it’s finally paid off for us a little bit tonight,” Rye Cove coach Michael Paul Berry said. “We closed out a big game against a rival.”
The game was largely a back-and-forth affair until the Eagles (5-10, 1-2) broke it open in the third quarter. With the score tied at 27, Rye Cove went on 10-0 run to take control thanks in part to a pair of 3-pointers by Hill.
Berry said Twin Springs’ efforts to counteract McMahan inside opened things up for Hill to get some good looks.
“They were packing it in there and trying to take away Hunter,” Berry said. “But Eric Hill stepped up and made some big shots in the third quarter, and that’s when I felt like we got some momentum back.”
For the Titans (4-10, 0-3), using a packed-in zone to try to contain McMahan led to gaps on the backside of their defense. Thanks to some unselfish passing, the Eagles were able to exploit those weak areas for easy buckets.
“McMahan is a load,” Twin Springs coach John McCrary said. “We didn’t have anybody to match up with him, so we had to commit a couple people to help, and that left somebody open on the offensive boards.
“We were robbing Peter to pay Paul.”
Twin Springs tried to mount a comeback, but managed only five points in the fourth quarter. Caleb Smith scored 10 to lead the Titans.
Jordan Peters added 14 for Rye Cove.
In the girls’ contest, the Lady Titans pitched a shutout in the third quarter and went on to beat Rye Cove 35-19.
The Lady Eagles were hanging within seven points at halftime, but they didn’t score a point for the first 9:21 of the second half. Morgan Kerns finally hit a layup to break the drought with 6:39 remaining in the game, but by that point, the Lady Eagles trailed 30-15.
Lucindy Lawson scored eight of her team-high nine points in the second quarter to get Rye Cove within shouting distance, but she came up empty in the second half.
Shiloah Darnell paced Twin Springs with 14 points, and Morgan Mays had 12 points on four 3-pointers.
The Lady Titans forced Rye Cove to commit 22 turnovers on the night.