published Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Cleveland clamps down, beats Hawks

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The Cleveland basketball Blue Raiders beat Hamilton Heights on Tuesday because two things improved from their weekend: their defensive effort and the shooting of Kendrick Thompson.

The sophomore hit four 3-point baskets and Cleveland limited the Hawks offensively in claiming a 55-42 victory at the Raider Dome. Thompson's 14 points led the Blue Raiders, followed by D.J. Bowles and Jarod Rhodes with 13 apiece.

Cleveland coach Jason McCowan praised David Morgan for taking a couple of charges in the first half.

"I think that set the tone defensively for us," he said.

Led by the attacking prowess of junior Filipe Goncalves, the much-taller Hawks jumped to a 6-2 lead, but Cleveland went on a 12-2 run the rest of the first quarter, using their superior speed for steals and layups to take a 14-8 lead going into the second.

The Raiders stretched the lead to 20-10 on a coast-to-coast layup by C.J. Bryant and led 28-16 at halftime. They led by 17 after a 3-pointer by Morgan, and the lead never fell below double figures the rest of the way.

Thompson hit two 3s in the second and third quarters.

"He shot the ball well tonight," McCowan said. "He had a rough weekend at the [Murmaid Mattress Classic], but when a team comes out in a zone, you have to play in gaps and spaces and find the hot hand.

"I'm proud of him for continuing to shoot. He was around 50 percent from 3-point range, and he had the mentality of a gunslinger, to be willing to take the next shot."

Hamilton Heights (2-2) was led by Goncalves' 16 points. Rokas Paulauskas added eight, but Velibor Njegovanovic had a poor shooting night and scored only six.

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