Very little went according to plan on Friday night in Charlotte, as the Creek Wood Red Hawks and Lady Red Hawks hosted Cascade for a pair of Region 6-AA Quarterfinal contests. The Creek Wood girls drew a 6-win Lady Champions team that on paper should have been a cakewalk. However, Cascade had clearly won the games that mattered to be in that situation, and proved its mettle in a defensive, gritty battle on the road. As for the boys, they hosted a Champions team that tied for third in its district, finished fourth in the tournament, and traveled to a very full Creek Wood gym from the Wartrace and Bell Buckle areas. After all, the Red Hawks had lost just 4 times on the season and just 6 games in 2 years–including a blowout win last year in the only other meeting between the Red Hawks and the Cascade boys.
Unfortunately, Cascade came in as a 21-7 team that was battle tested out of a district with CPA, Marshall County, Giles County, and Page. The Champions led for more than four quarters, and shocked the world on a circus shot that ended the season for the Creek Wood boys, just as they were preparing for overtime.
The Lady Red Hawks had to endure some runs from the scrappy Lady Champions throughout. As Caroline Edmondson was triple and quadruple-teamed for much of the game, it fell on the outside shooting to lift Creek Wood. Taylor Moore answered the bell and nailed 2 threes in the first while Edmondson worked for a basket inside. A 5-0 start turned into an 8-2 start for the Lady Red Hawks, and an Edmondson free throw plus the second of two Cascade baskets from post Brooke Sudduth made it 9-4 Lady Red Hawks at the end of one.
Sensational senior post Shaina Schneider got behind the defense in the second and managed 8 points for the Lady Champs, and the 8-2 Creek Wood lead in the first was erased as Cascade tied the game 11-11 and 13-13 in the second quarter. The resilient Lady Red Hawks answered back, winning the quarter 13-9 for a 22-13 halftime lead, as Moore added 8 more points including 2 more threes, while Elayna Gass had a trey and Edmondson found another 2.
The third was a 7-7 wash as freshman Raegan Hohl hit a three for Creek Wood while seniors Edmondson and McKenzie Broadway each had baskets, but Cascade had answers with a three from reserve Keely Sutton and buckets from Bailey Sudduth and Schneider. Up 29-20, the Lady Red Hawks needed to close out strong, so they went to two things that worked well for them all season–the leadership of Edmondson and the patient, ball-control offense that burns clock and leads to free throws. Edmondson scored twice and drew a foul each time, earning 5 points in the quarter, and overall Creek Wood made 7 free throws in the final frame; Cascade scored 7 points as a team in the fourth, so the Lady Red Hawks slammed the door on a 42-27 win, and a trip to the Region Semifinals Monday night at Spring Hill.
Schneider led the way for the Lady Champs with 10 points, while Brooke Sudduth added 6 points. Three other Cascade players had 3 points each. Moore led the way for Creek Wood with 16 points and 4 threes, while Edmondson had 12 points and Gass 6. The Lady Red Hawks draw Giles County Monday night at 6. The Lady Bobcats pummeled East Hickman Friday night, as Lady Eagle starters Olivia Martin and Hannah Pendergrass went down with leg injuries in the loss.
Cold shooting put the Red Hawk boys in a hole early on against visiting Cascade. Creek Wood won the opening tip and immediately went to work bombing threes–which all rimmed out or caromed off. The Red Hawks got multiple offensive boards, and 4 or 5 looks at the basket on its opening possession, but came away with nothing to show for it. The Champions took the ball up the floor and quickly scored, so Creek Wood got another look at an equalizer…and again, nothing. Cascade built an 11-0 lead before Ross “Chico” Plunkett finally got a three to go, but only reserve Devon Higgins could put anything else through for CWHS in the opening quarter as he buried a three and would not score again in the game. When the smoke cleared at the end of one, the Red Hawks were in a strange place: down 14-6 with a fourth of the game gone by. Hayden Edmondson, cousin to Creek Wood graduate Isaac Edmondson who led the team last year, had 5 points and a three for Cascade, while Austin Gentry canned a trey and Lane Simpson had a basket and a couple of free throws. The signs were beginning to show–Creek Wood was in for a fight.
Things settled down in the second, as Mercer signee Ross Cummings had 6 points and Plunkett hit 2 more threes, but Edmondson, Gentry, and backup Jaden Chumley each had treys of their own for Cascade. Gentry had 7 points in the quarter and a 10 point first half, and all of the Red Hawks’ work was for naught; they had doubled their first quarter output but were still outscored 13-12 and trailed 27-18 at the half.
The tide began to turn for the Red Hawks in the third, albeit slowly, as the home side took the period 12-10. Plunkett canned his fourth three, while Coulter Dotson turned his guard-oriented game into a post game, with great results. Good defense in the first half became great defense in the second half, and he managed 7 points in the third quarter after being shut out in the first half. Garrett Dolinich was also a big factor defensively, joining Dotson and Cummings to try to shut down the big bodies of Simpson and Dacota Newcomb; Dolinich would have 2 free throws in the frame. Gentry would add 5 points and his third three in the Cascade third, while Seth Gardener would strike from distance and Edmondson added a basket, but the Red Hawks chipped the lead down to 37-30 heading into the final 8 minutes.
Creek Wood played its best ball in the fourth quarter, and took its first lead of the game on a Ross Cummings three to make it 42-41 with around 4:30 left in regulation. The lead swung back and forth, but the Red Hawks got it back and stretched it out to a 4 point lead late before a Simpson basket-and-one cut the CWHS lead back to a single point. Creek Wood struggled to but the game away at the free throw line, but the Champions rushed a play late and threw the ball away into the bench, giving the Red Hawks new life, and a made free throw gave Creek Wood a 2-point lead in the final minute, 49-47. The Red Hawks denied the perimeter, and allowed Cascade to settle for a long two point jumper that tied the game at 49-49 with around 10 seconds left. Creek Wood took the ball up, and Gabe Cummings swung the ball from the right wing to the left wing and his twin brother, fellow senior Ross Cummings, trying to find a look for a buzzer-beater to give the Red Hawks the come-from-behind win and get them one step closer to a return trip to state. Instead, Ross tried to go behind the back to get away from a defender, and the ball goes ever so slightly out of his reach. With the final seconds ticking off the clock in a tied game, no one has time to react–except for Edmondson. He scooped the ball up at half court, let it fly as time expired….and buried it.
The unthinkable happened.
On a scoop-and-toss, half-court, buzzer-beater three….the Red Hawks went from at best winning on a buzzer-beater of their own and at worst going to overtime with all of the momentum from overcoming an 11-point deficit and trailing for most of the game….to losing the game and their season. In shock and awe, plus incredulous disbelief, the Red Hawks went through the handshake line as their season came to an abrupt, painful end 52-49 at the hands of Cascade and Coach Mike Edmondson.
Seniors Ross Cummings and Chico Plunkett fittingly led the team with 16 points each as Plunkett had 3 threes and a basket-and-one while Cummings had a lone trey and a basket-and-one on a tough shooting night for the Red Hawks. Fellow senior Gabe Cummings dished the ball well, but only had 1 point of his own, while sophomore Colter Dotson had 11 big points. Gentry was the scoring hero for Cascade with 19 points and 3 threes, while Edmondson had 13 points and 3 treys including the half-court game-winner. Simpson fouled out with 9 points while Gardner added 8.
The Red Hawks finish the season 24-5, while the Champions move on to face Marshall County, which squeaked by Camden 53-51. In the other semifinal matchup, Stewart County was the only District 11-AA team to advance; they will take on CPA Tuesday night in Spring Hill.