Region 1-A Semifinals: The Eagles soar on past the Highlanders

Published 11:37 pm Tuesday, March 1, 2016

SP00302 Cloudland vs Cosby copy

The Eagles landed on a high perch in the first quarter, and the Highlanders could not climb high enough to catch them.

Behind a 24-9 first frame, the Cosby Eagles held on to win 69-65 during the Region 1-A Semifinals Tuesday inside Chuckey-Doak Middle School.

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“Mentally we were a little bit in shock,” Cloudland Head Coach Gary Harrison said. “In the first quarter we dug a big hole for ourselves. Everything that they did we prepared for, but it must have been nerves.”

The Eagles were led in scoring by Devin Sturm, who posted 19 points.

In the first quarter, the Eagles struck from outside as they drained five 3-pointers, with post player Bryson Valentine knocking down two of the treys. At the close of the first frame, Cosby held a 15-point lead.

The first quarter would be the only quarter that the Eagles out scored the Highlanders. Cloudland out did the Eagles 19-12 in the second, however, Cosby’s big first quarter gave it enough cushion to head into the half with a 36-28 lead. Helping the Eagles’ cause were two more treys, giving the squad seven trifectas in the first half.

The Highlanders were able to slow down Cosby’s outside game, while holding the Eagles to just one 3-pointer in the second half.

“We really knew they were good shooters,” Harrison said. “We watched them on film a lot, and we prepared for them. We just had a mental breakdowns. Some of those threes were in transition. Many of them were on sets and we had seen them hit many times. And we knew that they could do that.”

Cloudland again out scored Cosby, posting 18 points to the Eagles’ 16. Behind a 13-1 run the Highlanders cut the Eagles lead to just three points with one minute left in the thrid quarter. However, Cosby answered with five down the stretch to take a 52-46 lead into the fourth.

The fourth quarter was back and forth, but the ’Landers were never able to pull in front. The last 30 seconds of the game saw Cloudland knock down two treys to again get within three points. However, the Eagles closed the game out with a foul shot from Valentine to capture the win.

Cloudland senior Colby Birchfield led the game with 23 points, while Dalton Vines recorded 14 and Josh Blair had 13.

Tuesday night, was the last high school game for three Cloudland seniors — Birchfield, Chris Wagoner, and Jesse Potter.

“Colby is the toughest kid that I have ever coached,” Harrison said. “Chris plays with as much or more heart than anybody I have ever coached. And I have never once in open gym or anything had to fuss at Jesse for not playing hard. He plays with so much heart and intensity.”