The Lady Wildcats didn’t score for the first five plus minutes of the game and trailed 7-3 heading into the second quarter. Cleveland High didn’t stay cold for long as the team made the adjustments it needed to make and ended up earning a decisive 51-28 win over West Bolivar here Tuesday night at the Margaret Wade Gymnasium.
Cleveland improved to 2-1, while West Bolivar fell to 1-2.
From the second quarter on, the Lady Wildcats shot the ball better on offense while the defense did a good job at making life tough for the Lady Eagles. Cleveland ended up scoring 25 points in the second quarter and took a 28-13 lead at halftime. Cleveland continued to hold West Bolivar at bay in the second half and ended up cruising to the victory.
“It’s their first home game, and they were all excited,” Cleveland High head coach Jenny McCullough said. “It was the seniors’ debut at home for this year, and they were exhausted after the first 30 seconds, because they were so excited. Once I subbed them out a little bit and let them sit down and collect themselves, they came out and relaxed a little bit and played. I thought we played a good game. Every body did what they needed to do.
“We have to sure up our rebounding. We gave up way too many offensive rebounds. I thought we shot the ball pretty well and defended, so overall we played a pretty good ball game,” McCullough added.
West Bolivar head basketball coach Willie Thomas said Cleveland utilized all of its players well.
“They had depth,” Thomas said. “They just ran us down. Most of the time you are not going to find a high school team that can play 10 girls. I thought that was the difference. They forced a lot of turnovers.”
The Lady Wildcats got great leadership from their veteran players. Senior guard Antonique McGee led Cleveland with 13 points and shot 6-of-10 from the floor. McGee also pulled down six rebounds with two steals in her performance. Junior guard McKinnon Skeen and senior guard Chelsea Heffner scored 12 points each to help spearhead the scoring. Heffner shot two 3-pointers and went 5-of-10 from the floor, while Skeen went 3-of-4 from 3-point land and 4-of-11 overall from the floor.
Freshman Katelyn Thompson scored eight points with two steals to aid Cleveland, followed by senior Tonidra Blair with 15 rebounds and senior Brittany Thigpen with six rebounds and four steals.
For West Bolivar, senior Desting Graham led the Lady Eagles with nine points and seven rebounds, followed by senior Kalesha Williams and sophomore center Ashley Cooper with six points each and senior Shavontae Johnson with four rebounds and three steals. Cooper also pulled down four rebounds.
West Bolivar will be back in action on Thursday when the team hosts Shaw in Rosedale, while Cleveland will travel to Greenville to play St. Joe on Thursday.