By Shannon Fagan/Cherokee County Herald
It didn’t take long for Cedar Bluff head coach Joe Carpenter to have a little deja vu Tuesday.
Last Friday, the Tigers fell behind by 12 points at Skyline early in the sub-regional round before his team turned up the intensity. Things started that way again against Gaston on Tuesday in the Class 1A Northeast Regional semifinals at Jacksonville State University’s Pete Mathews Coliseum.
Gaston jumped to a quick 5-0 lead. Cedar Bluff called timeout and turned on the burners.
“I simply told them we needed to wake up and play basketball,” Carpenter said. “We were fortunate to get out of that hole against Skyline. We got down 12-0 and we couldn’t do that again. We needed to nip that in the bud pretty early. We weren’t boxing out. We weren’t attacking the basket aggressively. We just kind of got in a little daze there. Maybe it woke them up. It looked like it did anyway.”
That was the only time Carpenter would have to give a wake-up call in the Tigers’ 69-45 thrashing of the Bulldogs.
“I’m very proud of our guys and the effort they gave tonight,” Carpenter said. “We’ve played them (Gaston) two times already this year. We knew they were a great outside shooting team, but we played a lot better defense tonight and boxed out a lot better. We’re proud to move on.”
Leading the Tiger charge was junior forward DeAngelo Hardy. He led all scorers with 25 points to go along with six steals, five assists and four rebounds. Senior forward Evan McBurnett added 11 points. Junior guard Terrence Scales contributed 10 points, nine assists, five rebounds and four steals. Senior guard Hayden Hackett finished with seven points, four rebounds and four steals.
Defensively, the Tigers forced 29 turnovers and scored 34 points off of them.
“They’re so long up front,” Gaston head coach Tonya Bogle said. “That was where the majority of our turnovers came, off of [DeAngelo] Hardy. With his length, he just covers so much of the court. He does a good job.”
The Tigers led 19-14 at the end of the first quarter, then went on a 20-7 run in the second to take a 39-21 advantage at halftime. Cedar Bluff didn’t let up in the third quarter, either. The Tigers outscored the Bulldogs 19-9 to take a 58-30 lead.
Bogle said her Bulldogs simply could not keep up with the pace the Tigers had set.
“It got a little bit faster than we wanted it to be,” she said. “We wanted to run on our end offensively. That was our plan. A lot of their points came out of transition off of defense. That killed us. We knew they had the capability of doing that. They’re just tremendous athletes. There wasn’t a whole lot we could do about it.”
Shai Ogles led Gaston with 11 points. Jackson Bogle added 10 points, six rebounds and four assists. Jeffery Collins came away with 10 rebounds and four points. Trevion Rooks finished with eight points.