COSBY—The last time the Cosby Eagles and Greenback Cherokees met on the hardwood, to say Cosby won easily would be an understatement.
A 60-point performance behind Class A Mr. Basketball finalist, Trey Johnson, and as a team posting a season-high 95 points, the Eagles won going away by 75 points.
Friday night’s event wasn’t quite as lopsided, but still ended with the same result. A seamless win for the Eagles, advancing them to the District 2-A title game on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. They’ll take on Hancock County, who defeated Jellico 66-44 on Friday.
Cosby had the obvious size advantage, and utilized it with stellar bench play en route to a 68-42 district semifinal win over Greenback.
The first half couldn’t have went any other way for Coach Kurt Brooks’ Eagles as they jumped out to an early 8-2 lead.
Riley Galler and Trey Johnson both used their size to an advantage, scoring the first eight points combined to spark an early lead.
Galler dominated the paint Friday night, scoring eight points and having another double-digit rebounding effort in the win.
Despite shooting well from the 3-point line in the previous meeting with Greenback, the Eagles could not drain a triple through the first quarter until Corey Askew nailed one with just under a minute to go.
As the Eagles took a 15-4 lead into the second quarter, Shayden O’Dell had no problems finding the bottom of the net.
“I was very pleased with our bench play tonight.” Brooks said, “Shayden comes in for us off the bench and grabs four steals, hits some huge threes, and a ton of boards.”
O’Dell led the team in steals with five on the night, while coming off the bench. He finished the night with 13 points, draining two treys from downtown in the win.
“Shayden had started all the way up until we played Hancock a few weeks ago,” Brooks said. “He was going through a slump. We came up with the solution for him to come off the bench and I think he’s starting to turn the corner and show us what he’s capable of.”
The Eagles made the Cherokees uneasy in the first half, forcing 11 turnovers and only allowing Greenback to put 11 on the scoreboard. Cosby led 35-11 at the intermission, more than doubling its lead from the first quarter.
After the half, Trey Johnson and Riley Galler still had the hot hands for Cosby.
Johnson led the team in scoring with 19 points, including a windmill jam to get the Eagles Nest shaking.
As the Eagles lead grew over the Cherokees, they were able to get the younger core in to give them some postseason experience.
“The postseason holds a lot more value than the regular season,” Brooks said. “It’s special anytime you can get guys into a postseason game. I believe it was nice for the young guys to get some tournament experience.”
Cosby took a 55-26 lead into the fourth and was well on its way to the district championship until Greenback caught fire.
Greenback’s Cameron Moffett took over the fourth quarter, sinking the first seven points in the opening minutes of the final frame to cut the lead down to 57-33.
Moffett led his team in scoring with 11 points.
With Greenback clawing back into the game, the Eagles depth began to click behind some huge buckets down the stretch from freshman, Cyler Davis.
“Davis is going to have a special career here at Cosby,” Brooks said, “At one point the younger guys let them cut the lead down to under 20. I had to get on them just a little bit and get them to understand where the lead is.
“They ended up pushing the lead back up and it’s great to get those younger guys in there and earn some meaningful minutes.”
The Eagles scored the final six points of the game, going on to finish the win over Greenback by 26 points.