NEWPORT—The Cocke County Fighting Cocks were forced to fight back from an early, lopsided deficit on Monday, but couldn’t come all the way back to get the victory.
The Fighting Cocks suffered another loss from Greeneville after being defeated 70-56, but not without a fight in the second half.
“When you get down early, you have to fight so hard to get back,” CCHS head coach Ray Evans said. “Sometimes you run out of gas, and I think that’s what happened. We cut it down to eight points at one time, but we couldn’t get any closer. I really think we grew up in the last three quarters and showed some things that have not been there in the last few games.”
Greeneville (12-6) used a hot-shooting first quarter hitting six 3-pointers to separate itself from Cocke County (6-12) for the 14-point victory.
“We weren’t closing out on shooters,” Evans said. “Teams can stand out there and shoot all night long if we aren’t guarding them. There isn’t a lot of teams that will hit that man 3’s like that.”
The Fighting Cocks were down by 19 after Greeneville’s first quarter, and trialed by 24 early in the second, but never gave up and fought untilt the final buzzer.
Greeneville carried momentum with them through the first half to grab a 40-22 lead before halftime, but coming out of the locker room Cocke County cut the lead down to eight in the fourth quarter.
Cocke County found an 11-0 run in the third quarter to cut Greeneville’s lead down to 11, but the Greene Devils hopped right back into action to match baskets with the Fighting Cocks.
The fourth quarter nearly favored Cocke County as it only trailed 56-48 with four minutes remaining, but the lead build from the early shooting was enough for Greeneville. Junior Trenidy Shelton led the fight with a game-high 19 points, but it was not enough to overcome Greeneville’s nine 3-pointers made in the game.
“Trenidy attacked the rim very well and made good decisions,” Evans said. “I’m proud of the way he played tonight.”
Greeneville began the game with four turnovers before the midway point of the first quarter, which allowed Cocke County to grab a 5-2 lead. The Greene Devils did not slouch, though, and had a 7-0 run to take a 9-5 lead.
“The first couple minutes of the game we set the tone,” Evans said. “We had some steals and jumped out on a lead. Then they went on the run.”
Turnovers started to haunt Cocke County and the Greene Devils began to light up from the perimeter. Greeneville forced eight turnovers against the Fighting Cocks for the quarter and knocked down six triples in the end.
Greeneville’s hot hand from deep rallied a 22-0 run to end the quarter and take a 24-5 lead after one.
Cocke County entered in a seven-minute scoring drought until finally finding a point from the charity stripe. The Fighting Cocks found some life after that with an 11-0 run to get them back into the game, but still trailed 31-16.
“We aren’t going to score 60-70 points every game,” Evans said. “We have some scoring droughts so we just have to play defense. We have to keep the games low-scoring or we aren’t going to win.”
Greeneville found its way back in it, though, after grabbing a couple of buckets inside to start the Greene Devils on a short 9-2 run. They took a 40-18 lead after that.
The game seemed to be in the Greene Devils’ hands after they hit eight 3-pointers in the first half to end the second quarter with a 40-22 lead.
Cocke County came out into the third quarter with a different demeanor to its game.
The Fighting Cocks exchanged a couple of baskets with Greeneville until going on an 11-0 run to decrease the big lead to 44-33.
Greeneville was sure to not be taken out of the game as it got going on the offensive end once again before ending the third quarter. The Greene Devils strung together a small 8-5 run to head into the final quarter with a 53-38 advantage.
Cocke County cut the deficit to 10 after an 8-3 run to start the fourth, as Greeneville led 56-46.
“We don’t have the firepower to fight back with teams all the time,” Evans said. “If we can slow the ball down and just relax, I think we will be okay. We will keep working on it and just slow it down against the pressuring teams.”
The lead was eventually cut to eight, but Greeneville matched each bucket Cocke County made to keep it ahead by 10 points as time ticked down. That was enough for the Greene Devils to roll out of the fourth quarter with a victory.
Cocke County fought the whole fourth quarter edging in, but the deficit built in the first quarter was too much to overcome in the final eight minutes. Greeneville knocked down just enough free throws, in the end, to walk away with a 70-56 victory.
“We came into the locker room tonight and the only negative was the first quarter,” Evans said. “Other than that, I’m proud of the fight they had. We won the last three quarters. No one had their head down tonight. We have to keep playing like that and just be calm. We will take the pressure and beat the pressure.”
While it’s another tough loss for the Fighting Cocks, they’ll still have a shot at getting a pair of district wins before the week is up.
Cocke County gets right back into District 2-AAA play later tonight as it’ll host Morristown West for a 7:30 p.m. tip at Cocke County High School.