EVENSVILLE, Tenn. — Keith Elliott’s coaching resume after this season will still show no district championships.
But after 19 seasons, the McMinn County boys’ basketball coach can add a different distinction: region champion.
The Cherokees’ second title appearance in a week resulted in another overtime affair, but McMinn outscored Cleveland 9-0 in the extra four minutes and defeated the Blue Raiders 68-59 for the Region 3-AAA title Tuesday at Rhea County. That was the Cherokees’ first title since 1991.
In the girls’ championship game, Bradley Central held McMinn to one fourth-quarter field goal and defeated the Lady Cherokees 60-50 for the Bearettes’ first championship since 2004.
The Bearettes will host a sectional game while the Lady Cherokees travel Saturday. The boys’ sectionals are Monday with McMinn at home and Cleveland on the road.
The Raiders forced overtime when Caleb Hiddleson scored off an inbounds play with 1.5 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, but in the extra session, Cleveland took a hit when sophomore point guard D.J. Bowles fouled out with 3:02 remaining and the game tied. McMinn hit seven free throws and had a four-point play by tournament most valuable player Cedric Nevins in the final seconds.
McMinn controlled the boards, outrebounding Cleveland 46-30. Nevins, Dante Arnwine and James Lowry had 14 points apiece for the Cherokees. Bowles had 15 points and B.J. Davis added 14 for Cleveland (19-9), which hit 11 3-pointers.
“If you look at our board, you’ll see our keys to the game were to not allow the fastbreak and not to allow any rebounding,” Elliott said. “This was a great win for us; we’ve been able to win a lot of close games this postseason.”
A 13-3 third-quarter run gave the Lady Cherokees a seven-point edge with 3:37 to go, but Bradley outscored them 28-11 the rest of the way. McMinn was held to a single field goal — a 3 by Haley Ward in the final minute — in the fourth quarter, as the Bearettes defense stiffened.
A three-point play by Brooke Copeland with 1:09 to go stretched a four-point lead to 53-46 and put the game away.
“That’s just the combination of our kids putting forth a lot of effort,” Bradley coach Jason Reuter said.
Copeland and MVP Kayla Beavers had 18 points apiece and 10 and nine rebounds. Kayla Formont had seven assists, while Monica Hammond had 11 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
Ward finished with 15 points and English Derrick scored 11 for McMinn (14-19).
“This is just a huge win for us,” Hammond said. “We’re going to have more of an advantage against who we play against at home. You don’t get chances like this, and we have to take advantage of it.”
Region 3-AAA girls’ final at Rhea County
BRADLEY CENTRAL 60, McMINN COUNTY 50
McMinn 11 15 16 8 — 50
Bradley 20 9 11 20 — 60
McMinn County (50) — C. Smith 6, Morrow 6, Brown 8, Murrillo 4, Haley Ward 15, English Derrick 11, Shirk, K. Smith, Burke.
Bradley Central (60) — Withrow, Formont 2, Kayla Beavers 18, Brooke Copeland 18, McCracken 3, Smith 8, Monica Hammond 11.
3-point goals: McMinn 4 (Morrow 2, Brown 2); Bradley 3 (Beavers 2, McCracken). Other highlights: Hammond 11 r, 5 a; Copeland 10 r, 5 b; Beavers 9 r; Formont 7 a (BC). Records: Bradley 27-5; McMinn 14-19.
All-tournament: Alaina Lusk, Coffee County; Kristen Jones, White County; Lauren Wilkerson, Warren County; Sydney Robinson, Cookeville; Qetuwrah Abdullah-Muhammad, Sydnie Anderson, Cleveland; Kayla Sewell, Taylor Neuharth, Walker Valley; Hannah Brown, Cara Smith, Haley Ward, McMinn County; Brooke Copeland, Monica Hammond, Kayla Beavers (MVP), Bradley Central.
Region 3-AAA final at Rhea County
McMINN COUNTY 68, CLEVELAND 59
Cleveland 4 26 10 19 0 — 59
McMinn 11 14 18 16 9 — 68
Cleveland (59) — Rutledge 7, Upton 9, Mee 9, D.J. Bowles 14, Upton 3, B.J. Davis 14, Hiddleson 2, Robinson, Herink.
McMinn County (68) — Dante Arnwine 14, Cedric Nevins 14, McBee 5, Wilcox 4, James Lowry 14, Looney, Simbeck 8, Hicks 9.
3-point goals: Cleveland 11 (Davis 4, Upton 3, Bowles 2, Rutledge, Mee); McMinn 1 (Arnwine). Records: McMinn 23-10; Cleveland 19-9.
All-tournament: Nathan Warren, Coffee County; A.J. Wilkerson, White County; Jacob Reagan, Warren County; Bryce Copeland, Bradley Central; Chase Henry, Phillip Rogan, Cookeville; Wesley Richey, Jervon Johnson, Ooltewah; Jay Mee, B.J. Davis, D.J. Bowles, Cleveland; Dante Arnwine, Desmond McBee, Cedric Nevins (MVP), McMinn County.
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