The Cane Ridge boys basketball team had one thing on its mind heading into Saturday’s District 12-AAA semifinal against McGavock.
After concluding the regular season with consecutive single-digit defeats, the top-seeded Ravens were focused on finishing strong, and that’s exactly what they did against the fourth-seeded Raiders in a 70-52 victory at Glencliff.
“We came in with the mindset to play harder, play better defense and really just finish,” Cane Ridge’s Kyree Elder said. “We had a couple of close games that we just didn’t finish. Our mindset today was just play hard for 32 minutes and have fun. We went out there and did that.”
The Ravens (21-7), who held a 32-29 halftime advantage, took control early in the third quarter, stringing together seven unanswered points in the opening minutes.
“We always preach, especially in close games, that the first three minutes of the third quarter is usually make or break,” said McGavock coach Paul Childress, whose squad knocked off Cane Ridge 78-74 on Feb. 3. “I thought they really controlled those first three minutes of the third quarter, and we just never could really fight back and get the score close.”
The Raiders (15-11), led by Chris Claybrooks’ game-high 23 points, pulled to within 47-41 on the senior guard’s jumper with 1:04 left in the third, but McGavock was outscored 21-11 in the final quarter.
“They were starting to break down,” Elder added. “We just kept stepping on their necks and got the job done.”
Elder, who scored 12 of his team-leading 17 points in the second half, was one of four Ravens to finish in double figures, joining Demarco Churwell (15), Jimmy Greer (13) and Brandon Dansoh (10).
“They’ve always got five great athletes out on the floor that can create their own shots,” Childress said. “I just give a lot of credit to them. They did a good job of running their offense and creating good looks for their teammates.”
Cane Ridge advances to Tuesday’s championship against No. 2 Hillsboro, a 69-55 winner over Glencliff, at 7:30 p.m.
“It’s a sigh of relief,” Cane Ridge coach Marlin Simms said. “When you’re the top seed everybody is looking to beat you. We had a bad week last week, and practice this week was decent. We did a good job of finding a way to come together as a team tonight.”
McGavock will square off with No. 6 seed Glencliff in Monday’s 7:30 p.m. consolation game. All four teams advance to the region tournament.
Girls: Shakala Griffin scored a team-high 13 points for second-seeded Cane Ridge, helping her team capture a 58-43 win over No. 3 seed Hunters Lane in the semifinals.
The Lady Ravens (16-9) opened on a 17-3 run through the first five minutes, and they held a 17-point advantage after one quarter. The Lady Warriors (17-13) trimmed the deficit to five points early in the third quarter. However, Cane Ridge closed the period on a 12-4 run, and Hunters Lane, led by Nechelle Turner’s game-high 22 points, was unable to cut it to single digits the rest of the way.
The Lady Ravens will take on top-seeded Overton in Tuesday’s 5:30 p.m. final. Hunters Lane will square off with No. 4 McGavock in Monday’s consolation game. All four teams advance to the region tournament.
Reach Michael Murphy at 259-8018 and on Twitter @Murph_TNsports.