By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director
CEDAR BLUFF – The Cedar Bluff Tigers smell what first-year head coach Johnny Amison is cooking, and so far on the young basketball season, it’s been a pleasant aroma.
The Tigers improved to 3-1 Thursday night and 2-0 in Class 1A, Area 12 play with a 63-41 victory over Coosa Christian. Cedar Bluff attacked the basket and created scoring opportunities to pull away in the second half against a physical Conqueror team, much to Amison’s delight.
“That’s what we want to try to do. They’re finally starting to understand what I want out of them,” Amison said. “We like to play in the paint. They’re starting to figure out how to get there without fouling and doing all that other stuff. That’s what we want to do on offense, and on defense, we want to keep them out of the paint.”
Point guard Bucky Leek led the Tigers with 22 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter, with eight of those points coming from the free-throw line.
“It’s a big win for us and that means a lot,” Leek said. “We knew they were taller, but we had to go in there and make some contact and try to find our way to the line. That was our goal. We wanted to get a run off some free throws and layups.
“It was physical from the tip off until the end of the game, but you’ve just got to make sure you’re under control and don’t lose your head.”
The Tigers didn’t lose their heads even when things got a little heated inside the paint in the second half.
After a nip-and-tuck battle in the first half, which Cedar Bluff led 23-20, the Tigers went on a 13-5 run in the third to take a 36-25 advantage. They hit their stride in the fourth and closed out the game with a 27-16 run.
“At halftime, I just told them to keep doing what we were doing, just keep playing hard and keep our heads,” Amison said. “I thought if we could play a little bit faster and attack their defense before it got set up we could get some good things. Once they got their defense set up we struggled. The faster we play and the more we get used to it I think the better we’ll be.”
Caleb Tucker added 16 points for the Tigers, including seven in the fourth quarter. MJ Adams and Aden Green delivered eight and five points respectively.
“We got a big lift from our bench tonight. They played really, really well,” Amison said. “Austin Richardson got our player of the game. That little fella came in and brought a lot of energy tonight. Caleb Tucker came in and played well. Aden Green played well off the bench. Our whole bench came in and played and hustled and did exactly what we asked them to do.”
Dartavius Mackey led the Conquerors (0-5, 0-3) with 15 points. Jacoby Tucker added 12 points. Drake Albury finished with six points.
Cedar Bluff travels to Jacksonville Christian on Friday.