Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

February 1, 2014

Cook sweeps Berrien in Region 1-AA play

ADEL — Cook entered both of Friday night's basketball games against Berrien as the prohibitive favorite and despite two entirely different games, both the Hornets’ girls and boys walked away with wins against the Rebels at home, 61-38 and 58-54, respectively.

The two teams seemed unevenly matched on paper and that carried onto the court as Cook's girls handled Berrien easily.

The Rebels had been defeated by an average of 28.5 points per game during an eight-game losing streak and the Hornets kept those woes going.

Much of Cook's offense came courtesy of Elesha Foster as her 29 points helped the Hornets cruise to a 20-point lead through three quarters of play.

No other Hornet reached double-digits with Jaylen Mobley  as the second-leading scorer with eight points.

Cook flirted with the 28-point margin of victory throughout much of the fourth quarter, but some late Berrien buckets limited the margin to 23.

Stefanie Scurry led Berrien in scoring with 16 points as the Rebels dropped to 5-14.

Cook's girls improved to 16-6.

The boys game was more competitive as expected.

Cook entered with a 14-7 record and a two-game winning streak following big wins against Fitzgerald and Baker County a week ago.

While Cook came into the game hot, Berrien entered struggling to find its footing.

The Rebels had gone 1-3 in their past four games en route to a 6-13 record with the lone win against the 4-12 Purple Hurricanes.

Despite residing on different ends of the spectrum records-wise, Cook coach Tommy Blackshear wasn't going to overlook a Berrien team that defeated Cook 41-40 the last time these two met Jan. 11.

"Well first of all, we weren't the superior team,” Blackshear said. “They had beaten us last time we played them because they have what I don't, size.

"We're so small, (coach Aric Mawdesley) did a great job of getting his kids to control the ball game which allowed his big guys to make plays. We were just fortunate enough to hit the big shots down the stretch, but that superior, you need to get rid of that."

Blackshear's worry proved to be valid; despite the disparity in records, Berrien would not be deterred.

After Cook raced out to a 5-0 lead, Berrien battled back with an 11-1 run to hold the lead going into the second quarter.

That trend continued throughout the night as neither team could distance itself from its opponent in an extremely competitive contest.

The Hornets took the lead in the second quarter due to some sloppy offensive play from the Rebels, but Berrien's 2-3 zone caused issues for Cook as well.

Cook carried a 27-26 lead into the locker rooms after a gritty first half.

The third quarter featured much of the same play as Berrien's zone stifled Cook, but turnovers kept the Rebels from capitalizing, leading by just one going into the fourth.

Finally, in the final quarter the Hornets’ ball movement appeared much more crisp and fluid, allowing them to put some distance between the Rebels and themselves.

Cook busted Berrien's zone with two big corner 3-pointers from each side of the court to take a 44-41 lead mid-way through the quarter.

"We had some open shots even in the second quarter, we just didn't make any shots," said Blackshear. "You live with the jump shot and you die by the jump shot, so we had to try to play defense and hang around until we can get a couple of shots to go in."

But still, Berrien would not go away.

A 3-pointer on the ensuing possession brought the Rebels back within two with with just under three minutes to go to set the stage for a thrilling finish.

Both teams battled over the game's final three minutes, exchanging basket for basket, but despite Berrien's gritty efforts, the Rebels could not get a shot at tying the game or taking the lead.

Each time Berrien cut the deficit to one possession Cook answered right back.

"We hadn't really been doing that, we really hadn't been making big shots when all the pressure is on us," said Blackshear. "On paper we were supposed to win so all the pressure was on us, but tonight the kids did hit some crucial shots and I'm going to go compliment them on those shots."

Jarrod Franklin paced the Hornets with 13 points and Tavian Allen and Thomas Rountree added 12 each.

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