By Shannon Fagan, WEIS Sports Director
CEDAR BLUFF – If the Cedar Bluff Tigers are going to make a postseason basketball run, their inside game has to become a dominating presence.
On Monday night against Class 1A, Area 12 rival Gaylesville it was.
Six-foot-5 freshman Kadin Fife and 6-5 junior Isaac Bishop muscled their way down low against the Trojans. Fife led the Tigers with 17 points, 18 rebounds, three steals, an assist and a block, while Bishop accounted for 14 points, nine boards, three blocks and a steal in Cedar Bluff’s 59-43 victory.
“Kadin and Isaac both have really picked their games up,” Cedar Bluff coach Johnny Amison said. “They’ve been stronger, playing more physical and getting rebounds outside of their area. Early in the season, if it didn’t come straight to them, they didn’t get it, but now they’re starting to work a little harder and move a little bit more. They’re starting to understand the game.”
Cedar Bluff (8-19) secured the second seed in the Class 1A, Area 12 basketball tournament at Spring Garden. They’ll face the third-seeded Trojans (13-17) on Saturday to see who keeps its season alive. The time was yet to be determined as of this post.
Saturday will be the third time in 15 days the two teams will have played each other. Gaylesville defeated Cedar Bluff in the Cherokee County Tournament semifinals 49-43 in overtime back on Jan. 19.
But Monday was a different story for the Tigers.
“That (inside game) led to us getting shot attempts, and it led to our bigs getting rebounds and put them back up,” Cedar Bluff head coach Johnny Amison said. “Hitting our shots and our bigs doing work, boxing out and getting rebounds and going back up strong, that changed the game.”
Something else that helped change the game was Gaylesville (13-17) not having the services of its big man, 6-foot-3 junior post Caden Angle (sickness).
“It killed us in the size department and it made it tough,” Trojan coach Kolby Brannon said. “They (Cedar Bluff) did a good job of feeding it down low. They knew we were going to struggle, and we didn’t shoot the ball well tonight either, but that’s just part of it.”
One player who did have a good night shooting from the outside for Gaylesville was sophomore guard Daylen Dobbins. Dobbins led the Trojans with 15 points on five treys.
“Daylen has been so good these past three games now. He hit 10 (3-pointers) over the past two games coming into tonight,” Brannon said. “We’ve been finding him in the corner. He just sits over there waiting on it. He’s been huge for us the past three nights.”
Dobbins got things going early for the Trojans by hitting his first trey 49 seconds into the game. Kuper Bradley and Kyler Bradley closed out the quarter with a trey apiece, helping Gaylesville earn a 13-6 advantage.
Dobbins hit another 3-pointer in the second quarter to help put the Trojans up 18-13 at halftime.
Gaylesville stretched its lead out to seven with 5:15 to go in the third quarter at 24-17 on a basket-and-one by Kuper Bradley, but then the Tigers’ inside presence began to take over.
Cedar Bluff closed out the third quarter on a 22-7 run to take a 39-31 edge into the fourth quarter.
Tiger senior guard Eli McFry helped lead the charge. He scored 11 of his 16 points in the third and also finished with seven boards, two steals and an assist.
Another key in the third was the Tigers began to limit their turnovers.
“In the first half, we had 14 or 15 turnovers. When we decided to stop turning the ball over and get shot attempts and rebounds that helped us a whole lot,” Amison said.
Cedar Bluff began the fourth on a 10-3 run to put some distance in the score at 49-34. It was a run in which the Trojans never recovered.
Kuper Bradley added 11 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, for Gaylesville. Kyler Bradley tallied 10 points, including a pair of treys. Collin Hendon finished with five points.
Israel Morrison also finished with five points and three rebounds for the Tigers.
“We’ve still got to put two halves together. We haven’t done a good job of putting two halves together yet,” Amison said. “We dug ourselves a hole in the first half tonight with all those turnovers. If we could put two halves together I think we’ll be pretty tough (in the postseason).
“We’ve got to let this one go because the next one (on Saturday) counts for real. We’ve got to get ourselves mentally ready. I know they’re going to come back. This just fuels their fire, so we’ve got to come back and play.”
“I’ve told people we’re either going to shoot our way to JSU or shoot our way out real quick,” Brannon added. “We’ve just got to regroup and reset our game plan because we’ve got them again Saturday.”
Cedar Bluff 54, Gaylesville 30
CEDAR BLUFF – The Cedar Bluff Lady Tigers jumped out on a 14-1 run in the first quarter and cruised to a 54-30 area girls basketball win over visiting Gaylesville on Monday.
Kylie Vadon topped the Lady Tigers (18-10) with 24 points, 10 rebounds, seven steals and an assist. Za’Niya Kyle added eight points, 11 boards and three steals. Ciana Smith also scored eight points to go along with 10 rebounds, five steals and two assists. Janaya Higgins finished with five points, five rebounds and four assists.
Jayden Dobbins led the Lady Trojans with 10 points, including three 3-pointers. Gracie Dawson netted nine points and Emma Givens finished with six points.
Cedar Bluff led 18-6 at the end of the first quarter and held a 32-15 advantage at halftime. A 13-3 run in the third gave the Lady Tigers a 45-18 edge heading into the fourth quarter.
Both Cedar Bluff teams close out the regular season on Tuesday at home against Collinsville. Gaylesville is at Victory Christian on Thursday.