The Hayesville Yellow Jackets took the long trip to play at Cherokee on Tuesday night, Jan. 15. The Cherokee Indians have had an up and down season but were ready for the Yellow Jackets and you could feel the big game atmosphere in the gym. Hayesville had one of their best scoring nights of the year and were able to defeat the Indians 71-54. Hayesville did not lose their lead after taking it in the second quarter and their consistent play was too much for Cherokee to handle.
In the first quarter Hayesville was led by Junior Hayden McClure who got the Yellow Jackets off to a good start with his early offense. The quarter was a back and forth affair with Cherokee protecting their home court looking like they would be tough to defeat on this night. The quarter finished with the Indians holding a 16-13 lead but it was still anybody’s game.
This game had important conference positioning on the line, Hayesville had just one game ago moved into first place. While Cherokee was looking to show despite a few early losses that they belonged in the first place conversation.
On to the second quarter where the Yellow Jackets used great offensive showing to overtake the Indians small lead. Cherokee was wanting to play a quick up and down game which the Yellow Jackets did not mind beating the Indians at their own game. Thanks to good defense Hayesville was able to hold Cherokee to only 12 points in the quarter. While scoring 19 of their own thanks to some easy transition baskets Hayesville took a 32-28 lead.
Coming into the third quarter both teams made some adjustments and it Cherokee may chipped away at the Hayesville lead. Cherokee thanks to a three at the beginning and end of the quarter was still down but only by three to end the quarter. The Yellow Jackets leading 46-43 at the end of the quarter knew it would be decided in the 4th quarter.
Hayesville who has played in so many close games this year is starting to show that its paying off. They knew they needed a strong 4th quarter to win the game and they did not disappoint. The Yellow Jackets scored 25 fourth quarter points to put away the Indians leaving them no chance. Hayesville finished strong by going to their Sophomore duo Kolbe Ashe and Jake McTaggart. They led the way for a Yellow Jacket victory 71-54, aided by some great free-throw shooting.
Hayesville leaders for the night:
Kolbe Ashe, sophomore: 20 points
Jake McTaggart, sophomore: 17 points
Hayden McClure, junior: 13 points
Mark Cothren, senior: nine points (three 3-pointers)
After shooting below 50 percent as a team against Andrews, Hayesville turned it around tonight. Cherokee tried to foul late hoping for some Hayesville misses but Hayesville answered by shooting 78% from the line going 14-of-18 on the night. Hayesville will next play at home, hosting the Nantahala Hawks on Friday night, Jan. 17.
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