In Tuesday night’s 67-52 Big 7 Conference win over David Crockett, the two stepped up big. Bledsoe had a game-high 24 points while Watson had seven, but a sequence of defensive rebounds that led to long outlet passes and easy transition buckets put the Chiefs over the hump.
“(Crockett) made a run there in the third quarter and we weren’t getting back in transition. We turned the ball over a few times and we got a little bit out of character,” said Cherokee coach Ty Webb. “We talked about three big things before the game: transition buckets, rebounding and taking high-quality shots. We did a really good job of that for 3½ quarters.”
Cherokee (9-18, 3-8) nearly led from the tip, but Crockett kept hanging around. The Pioneers made a surge near the end of the third quarter to cut the deficit to 41-35.
However, the Chiefs made a big 14-3 run to start the final period and put the game on ice by making free throws.
Mack Hensley led Crockett with 13 points. Mason Britton and Donta Hackler each had 12.
“Wyatt is huge for us on the floor, literally and figuratively. We knew they could shoot the 3-pointers, but we wanted them to be long and contested shots,” Webb said. “That way, that would lead to some long rebounds and Wyatt got a lot of them. He was key for us tonight.
“We like the way we’re playing right now and we hope we can carry this momentum into the tournament. We’ve got Science Hill here on Friday night, so we hope that we can avenge that loss from earlier in the season. I think we’ve found a lot of things that we can build on going into the tournament and it all started with that Tennessee High win. It gave us some confidence that we could play with anybody.”
BALDWIN LIFTS LADY PIONEERS
Crockett’s Mackenzie Baldwin totaled just two points, but they were the biggest two.
Baldwin’s putback with 4.1 seconds showing on the clock lifted the Lady Pioneers (9-15, 4-8 Big 7) to a 38-36 victory over the Lady Chiefs.
Cherokee’s Kennedy Cowan had a really good look at the game-tying bucket from the right box, but the shot hit the back of the iron and rolled off the cylinder as the horn sounded.
Freshman Emily Trivette’s 13 points — including four 3-pointers — fueled Crockett’s victory, along with Emma Gouge coupling nine points with nine rebounds.
The Lady Pioneers outscored Cherokee 15-1 in the final quarter and turned a 12-point deficit into a two-point win. Three of Crockett’s six 3-point baskets came within the game’s final two minutes.
Cowan led Cherokee (17-9, 5-6) with 16 points. Harper Russell, who was sidelined with a right shoulder injury for a part of the third quarter, finished with nine points.