The Creek Wood Red Hawks battled against a physical Pearl-Cohn team, an inconsistent officiating crew, a hostile road crowd, and at times against themselves in a TSSAA Class AA Sectional Game in Nashville Tuesday night, but the District 11AA Champions and Region 6AA Runners Up weathered a late rally and answered with a run of their own, holding off the Firebirds 67-59.
Antwan Jennings started the scoring for Pearl-Cohn with a bucket in the paint to give the Firebirds a 2-0 lead, but Isaac Edmondson answered back for a 2-2 tie. After a flurry of misses and turnovers, Korayon Jordan made it 4-2 Pearl-Cohn, but Ross Cummings quickly scored, drew a foul, and hit the free throw to give the Red Hawks the lead 5-4. The Red Hawks would stretch the lead to 9-4 before a Firebird run trimmed the margin to 9-7; a Ross Plunkett bucket and an Edmondson basket-and-one made it 14-7, and after a basket by reserve post Charquise Buchanan trimmed the lead to 14-9, the two sides held each other in check for the rest of the first.
While the Firebirds dominated on the glass on both ends, poor shooting would keep the home team from getting anything done offensively. The two sides would trade scores in the second, with neither side able to score more than 4 unanswered, and with the quarter a 17-17 wash the Red Hawks went to the locker room up 31-26.
Pearl-Cohn took over in the third, and looked poised to knock off the visitors from the north end of Dickson County. The Firebirds opened the half on a 6-2 run and cut Creek Wood’s lead to 33-32, but a Gabe Cummings 2 made it 35-32. Jennings got around the Creek Wood posts for an answer, but senior Easton Aldridge found an answer of his own to make it 37-34. Plunkett got a steal on the other end for Creek Wood and found senior Tyler Turpin, who drew a foul and hit both free throws to grow the lead to 39-34. Jordan Sandifer shocked the Red Hawk crowd with a big three to answer and trim the lead to 39-37, but both sides turned cold again. Eventually, Jennings would score to tie the game and Michael Crawley would hit to give Pearl-Cohn the lead back at 41-39, and late in the quarter the Firebirds would rebound off an Edmondson miss and set up in the front court. Pearl-Cohn would miss three consecutive shots, getting two offensive boards before drawing a foul on Gabe Cummings. Jennings would hit one of his two free throws, and the home side would take a 42-39 lead into the fourth.
Creek Wood immediately answered back, tying the game at 42-42 with a basket-and-one from the senior Edmondson to open the fourth. Sandifer and Jennings would answer back to make it 46-42 Firebirds, That lead would be their last, however, as Creek Wood made another huge run right away. Ross Cummings drew a foul and hit both free throws, then another Edmondson basket-and-one put the Red Hawks back up 47-46. That was the start of a 12-2 run by the visitors, ending with two more Edmondson free throws and a 54-48 edge. A Jordan jumper cut the lead to 54-50, but a Ross Cummings dagger dragged the lead out to 7.
Jordan drew a big foul on Edmondson, but could only hit one free throw to make it 57-51. Edmondson then made amends by scoring a two of his own, and after Pearl-Cohn missed on a bucket and the putback attempt, a Ross Cummings trey made it 62-51 Creek Wood. Pearl-Cohn would continue to struggle shooting at its own rims, as the home team needed three shots and two rebounds before Crawley finally got one to go and trimmed the lead to 62-53, but with just a couple of minutes left it all came down to Creek Wood’s foul shooting. Ross Cummings would hit one of two, giving the Red Hawks a 63-53 edge, and Creek Wood only allowed one more mini-run from the Firebirds as they trimmed the lead to 65-59. After Gabe Cummings hit one of two free throws the next trip down the floor, Pearl-Cohn’s Ramsey had two looks from three due to a Creek Wood turnover and missed them both; Edmondson would wind up with the ball, draw the foul, and hit one more free throw to make the margin 67-59, and a frustrated, disinterested Pearl-Cohn team would not have an answer as the final seconds ran off the clock. For the first time in school history, the Red Hawk boys were on their way to State!
The bruising Firebirds out rebounded Creek Wood 44-32 and pulled 24 offensive rebounds to Creek Wood’s 8, but only managed 19 second-chance points for their efforts compared to the Red Hawks’ efficient 6. Poor shooting was the problem for Pearl-Cohn, which only shot 34% from the floor compared to Creek Wood’s 47%. Creek Wood out shot the home side 55% to 37% from two, and held its own with 38 points in the paint versus 42 from the bigger Firebird posts.
Edmondson dazzled for a second consecutive postseason performance with 25 points and 8 rebounds, while Ross Cummings had 18 points, 7 boards, and 2 of the Red Hawks’ 3 threes. Plunkett added 7 points, and Turpin 5. Pearl-Cohn was led by Sandifer with 17, Jennings with 15 points and 16 rebounds, and and Jordan with 11 points.
Creek Wood advances to the State Tournament with the big road win, and the Red Hawks will face Fulton next Thursday night at 6pm at the Murphy Center at MTSU in Murfreesboro.