CLEVELAND, Tenn. — With Oak Ridge looking to take down Tennessee Class AAA's lone unbeaten boys' basketball team, No. 1-ranked Cleveland would have none of it.
Raider Arena was rocking in the second half as junior Kley McGowan sent the Blue Raiders fans through the roof to help spark a 66-51 victory Tuesday night.
After an offensive rebound, Michael Dale hit McGowan in the left corner for a 3-point shot he made while being fouled to the court in front of his team bench. Just seconds after completing a rare four-point play, he skied for a two-handed jam off a steal for a 35-32 lead.
Chants of "fear the mullet" coursed through the home crowd as McGowan took off for 11 third-quarter points and also added a charge to help provide fuel to the fire.
"When we get momentum we are really dangerous," said McGowan, who scored 18 points. "We have such a great fan base who helps us out a lot. When they start chanting for me, it really hypes me up. They have embraced us all and push us nightly."
Wearing a pair of neon green shoes with a tribute written to his late brother on them, senior JaCobi Wood turned a slow starting performance into another special one for the Mr. Basketball candidate.
Wood shot 8-of-12 from the field from the second quarter on, finishing with a game-high 26 points. The Belmont signee also dished out seven assists, which included a no-look pass to McGowan and an around-the-back delivery to Grant Hurst.
"A young fan and friend of mine, Maguire Evans, bought me these shoes he had been saving for," explained Wood, who scored 18 second-half points with some step-back 3-pointers. "Green is my family color for my brother, and for him to give me these green Currys (Stephen Curry brand of shoe) means a lot to me."
The Wildcats (20-4) came out strong early, building a 14-8 lead, but the Blue Raiders (26-0) gained control and used a 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter to end senior night with a bang.
Hurst added 10 points, while senior Mo Schramm added nine points and 10 rebounds.
Lady Raiders 54, Lady Wildcats 40
Cleveland junior Kara Williams caught fire for four first-quarter 3s and knocked down six to finish with a game-high 21 points.
The Lady Raiders (18-9) also were propelled by senior leader Bailey Anderson. The standout defender and high-motored guard scored 18 points and helped build a 22-5 lead with seven first-quarter points. Her team also honored her as she shot the ball soon after the final buzzer, swishing a 3-pointer.
"This was an emotional night," Anderson said. "I didn't think I was going to cry, but out there it's a different story. It's been a fun journey. The people in my locker room will be some of my closest friends for the rest of my life. This win tonight was a big step for us."
Oak Ridge (24-5) had beaten Cleveland, 70-51, on Jan. 18.
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org.