As the holiday break loomed, Cherokee Trail and Rangeview tipped-off in a 5A battle Friday night. Teams entered the contest looking to either reverse a trend, or keep it going. The Lady Cougars were successful in ending their losing skid, and stopped the Raiders cold in their tracks at seven games in a row.
Cherokee Trail’s junior Destinee Paulk got the scoring started going one for two at the line, before being fouled once more and again hitting one of two, giving the Lady Cougars an early 2-0 lead. Cherokee Trail pushed their lead to 4-0 before Rangeview’s freshman Ny’Era West got the Raiders on the board. Senior Angel Broadus knotted things up at four off a fast break; however, this would be the closest point the Raiders got to overtaking the Lady Cougars.
The Lady Cougars forced turnovers and were able to capitalize with fast break scoring and utilizing short courts to their advantage. With under a minute to go in the quarter, Cherokee Trail hit a corner three to take their largest lead of the game (12) before Rangeview answered with their own as the clock dwindled down. Cherokee Trail took an 18-9 lead into the second as the Raiders’ offense struggled to find a groove and looked sloppy with the ball.
Rangeview’s senior Taelor Jackson was the first to score in the second after being fouled 15 seconds into the quarter. Jackson missed her second shot, but it was rebounded and put back by senior Danae Johnson putting the Raiders back to within six points. Cherokee Trail was able to get going following a steal by junior Makayla Hemingway who drove the lane and got it to fall. Scoring went back and forth between the squads for the remainder of the quarter, but at the half, Rangeview continued to find themselves behind, 30-23.
Halftime proved to be enough time for the Raiders to regroup and refocus. Rangeview opened the second half on an 8-2 run and were even able to get to within one of the Lady Cougars. Cherokee Trail’s Dominique Rodriguez broke the run with five points on back-to-back possessions to give the Lady Cougars a 37-33 lead. The spark provided by Rodriguez was just what Cherokee Trail needed as their defense tightened up and their offense found ways to hold off Rangeview’s attack. The Raiders got back to within three after hitting an awkward shot inside as the quarter finished up, 45-42.
The fourth got started with a clutch shot by Rangeview’s West, as the Raiders found themselves a basket away from taking the lead, but a foul on the other end put Cherokee Trail to the line as senior Angel Neyland went one for two to push the lead back to two points. The Lady Cougars regained momentum and found themselves on a 7-0 run before the Raiders got one to fall with just over three minutes to go. Cherokee Trail was able to keep their foot on the gas and in the end, entered the holiday break with a 64-54 victory, ending Rangeview’s seven game winning streak.
Freshman Ny’Era West was third in scoring for the Raiders, finishing her night with 10 points. West showed a great ability to work inside and get tough shots to fall. Sophomore Brianna Linnear led the Raiders with 21 in the loss. Linnear has great hands and the ability to create separation and finish to the basket with incredible speed.
Junior trio, Dominique Rodriguez, Destinee Paulk, and Makayla Hemingway could not be stopped last night, as they led the way for the Lady Cougars. Hemingway finished with a team-high 16 points. Paulk was right behind her with 15 points of her own. Rodriguez finished with 15 as well, and led the team in assists.