CENTRE – Cedar Bluff junior high boys basketball coach Cruz Butts got an unexpected upgrade to the boys varsity team on Thursday against Gaylesville in the Cherokee County Tournament at the Gadsden State-Cherokee Arena.
Butts said around 11:30 a.m. Thursday morning, varsity head coach Nathan Wehunt explained to Butts his newborn son was sick and had to be rushed to the hospital.
“He came up to me and said ‘Hey, I’ve got to go. Can you coach?’” Butts said. “I said ‘All right.’ I called Coach (Garrett) Crane and told him I needed help tonight.”
Butts also had junior varsity boys coach Steve Bishop assisting him on the bench.
Butts coached the Tiger junior varsity boys in the early game of the day, a 35-21 loss to Spring Garden. However, he won his varsity debut in the tournament nightcap by the final of 42-36.
“It’s a great win and I’m proud of them,” Butts said. “We didn’t play the best ball we could play tonight, but a win’s a win. We’ve got to come ready to play (Friday) against Spring Garden.”
Aden Green led the Tigers with a game-high 21 points. Bucky Leek added six points and Connor Flynt finished with five points.
“The first player I talked to (Thursday) was Bucky. I told him ‘Hey, step up and take over.’ We’ve got two starters out with COVID, two coaches out. I told him he was going to have to take over and be a leader like he always is, and then AdenGreen also played a great game,” Butts said.
The Tigers led 12-11 at the end of the first quarter and 23-19 at halftime. Gaylesville continued to keep things close in the second half, but Cedar Bluff held on for the win to advance.
Kyler Bradley and Jacob Gordon led the Trojans with eight points apiece. Hunter Penney and Seth Lee both finished with seven points.
Cedar Bluff 43, Gaylesville 40
CENTRE – The Cedar Bluff Lady Tigers held off a late Gaylesville comeback to earn a 43-40 victory in the Cherokee County Basketball Tournament on Thursday.
Za’Niya Kyle led the Lady Tigers with 13 points. Kija Gleen added nine points. Kylie Vadon also netted nine points on three 3-pointers.
Aubrie Peek posted 15 points for the Lady Trojans. Peyton Bright sank four treys and finished with 12 points. Delaney Coker contributed seven points, including a pair of treys.
Cedar Bluff built a 26-12 halftime lead. Gaylesville cut its deficit to 33-27 heading into the fourth quarter and 41-40 with 48 seconds remaining. Kyle stretched the Lady Tiger lead back out to three on a basket with 37 seconds remaining. The Lady Trojans had a pair of chances to tie the game on 3-pointers, but missed them both, with the last coming from Peek at the buzzer.
Cedar Bluff takes on top-seeded Spring Garden on Friday at 4 p.m.
Junior Varsity Boys
Cherokee County 41, Sand Rock 36
CENTRE – Cherokee County outlasted Sand Rock 41-36 in the junior varsity boys county tournament on Thursday.
Alex Johnson led the Warriors with 14 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Lamycal Mitchell added 10 points.
Jake Middlebrooks topped Sand Rock with 17 points.
Cherokee County led 10-3 at the end of the first quarter and 20-8 at halftime before Sand Rock rallied to tie game at 24 at the end of three quarters. The Warriors outscored the Wildcats 17-12 in the fourth for the final.
Cherokee County advances to face Spring Garden in the JV boys championship game on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
Spring Garden 35, Cedar Bluff 21
CENTRE – Connor Bates rang for 12 points to lead the Spring Garden junior varsity boys past Cedar Bluff 35-21 in Cherokee County Tournament action on Thursday.
Hunter Jenkins led Cedar Bluff with eight points.
The Panthers held a 6-5 edge at the end of the first quarter, but Cedar Bluff rallied to take an 11-10 edge at halftime. Spring Garden built a 21-14 advantage at the end of the third quarter, then went on a 14-7 run in the fourth for the final.
Spring Garden takes on Cherokee County in the JV boys championship game on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.