COSBY—The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Cosby locked up the top spot in the District 2-A standings with a 76-34 victory over Berean Christian on Tuesday. It’s the 10th consecutive season Cosby will carry the No. 1 seed into the district tournament.
The Eagles’ last encounter with Berean Christian (9-14, 7-5 District 2-A) was anything but appealing.
Offense was difficult to come by and Cosby (17-7, 12-1 District 2-A) was short on answers to slow down BC’s guards on the defensive end. Tuesday proved to be the exact opposite, though. Cosby held Berean under 40 points and averaged more than 26 points per quarter through the first three periods.
“We played a lot better tonight,” Cosby coach Brad Flatford said. “I’m not sure what it was, but for some reason we just weren’t ready to play down there. We played well on both ends of the floor tonight. Particularly on the defensive end. I thought we played tremendous defense, especially in the first half.”
Gone are the woes from early in the season. The 2-4 start Cosby got off to seems so long ago. The Eagles have now won nine of their last 10 — including the last four-straight — and are looking more than ready for the postseason at just the right time.
“We struggled early in the year,” Flatford said. “They way it looked early it didn’t seem like we would get this far. We dropped a game early (in district) but haven’t dropped one since, and here lately we’ve been playing a lot better.
“We’ve gotten better but I still feel like we can play better.”
Part of Cosby’s progression to this point of the season certainly belongs to the heightened play of its back court.
Sophomore Trey Johnson has shown great touch shooting the ball over the last few weeks. Coupled with the aggressive play from Braden Shaffer and Jeremy Wise, the Eagles are functioning on all cylinders at the perfect time.
“Our guards shot the ball really well and have played really unselfish as of late,” Flatford said. “Braden’s doing a good job of working to get guys some easier shots, which they’ve turned into points. I like when we’re playing unselfish like that.
“We want to be playing our best when the season is winding down, and right now we’re doing that.”
Johnson led all scorers with 18 points on Tuesday night. Shaffer added 14, as four Cosby players finished in double figures. The duo knocked down eight of the team’s 10 makes from 3-point range on the night, as well.
“Our chemistry seems the best it’s been all year,” Flatford said. “I wasn’t real sure what we were doing early in the year, but now we’ve got an established inside presence and are shooting the ball much better, which never hurts.”
While Cosby’s guards appear to be gaining confidence with the postseason right around the corner, sophomore forward Riley Galler has also made great strides as of late to be a consistent contributor to Cosby’s efforts.
“Riley played well to start the season, but began to struggle some towards the middle of the year,” Flatford said. “Now he’s starting to play with more confidence again. He’s still just a sophomore, and it’s important to remember that, but he’s starting to do some really good things for us again.”
Galler finished the night with 13 points. Austin McKeehan also poured in 13 to round out a solid night for Cosby’s front court.
Cosby opened the game on a 5-0 run, settling its lead around five points with a 10-5 advantage halfway through the first period. Berean Christian would cut the deficit to two with just under four minutes left in the first, before Cosby would go on a 16-0 run to end the quarter with a 26-8 lead.
Johnson and Shaffer each got hot from deep early, connecting on a combined five 3-pointers to atone for 17 of Cosby’s first-quarter scoring output.
Cosby’s run would continue into the second period, capping at a 22-0 run to give it a 32-8 lead over BC early in the period. Berean Christian would finally break its scoring slump, but still failed to cut into Cosby’s lead.
The Eagles of Cosby would go into the half carrying a lopsided 26-point advantage at 42-16.
Berean Christian opened the second half with seven quick points in the third quarter, but all it did was ignite another Cosby run.
With Shaffer and Johnson heating up again from deep, McKeehan and Galler continued to clean up in the paint. Cosby extended its lead past 40 as it continued to hold BC without a bucket for several possessions at a time.
Cosby carried a 73-25 lead into the final period, putting a running clock into effect. Working in several players off the bench to close out the win, Cosby went on to secure the 42-point victory, locking up the district’s top seed going into the postseason.
The Eagles will wrap up the 2018-19 regular season by hosting Greenback on Friday at 8 p.m. The Cherokees hold Cosby’s lone loss in District 2-A play from the last two seasons, and defeated the Eagles in their first meeting this season, 66-64.
LADY EAGLES WIN BY FORFEIT
The Cosby Lady Eagles picked up their easiest victory of the season, fittingly enough on homecoming night.
The victory comes by way of forfeit as District 2-A foe Berean Christian’s girls opted not to make the trip to Cosby with the season winding down. Cosby (19-5, 13-0 District 2-A) won the last meeting between the two in a 67-25 decision.
The Lady Eagles will now turn their attention to their final regular season and home outing of the season when they host Greenback on Friday at 6:30 p.m. A victory would lend Cosby its second consecutive unbeaten run through the district in regular season play, and give the Lady Eagles their 11th win in their last 12 outings, including seven-straight victories to close out the regular season.