One team had more to play for than the other in Monday's District 5-AAA boys' high school basketball game at Ooltewah. And it showed.
Thanks to a recent upset loss at Soddy-Daisy, Ooltewah had no shot at overtaking its Monday opponent, Bradley Central, at the top of the district standings. But the Owls needed to win to gain the No. 2 seeding for the district tournament, and did so, beating the Bears 75-58.
District regular-season champion Bradley Central (14-10, 10-2) had nothing to gain by winning. Conversely, Ooltewah (15-8, 9-3) was tied with Cleveland for the second spot, although Owls coach Tank Montgomery didn't tell his players a victory would make them the second-seeded team. He did, though, have them motivated.
"You want to get the right energy going into the tournament," Motgomery said.
Even with the loss to Soddy-Daisy, the Owls have won six of seven.
"They've been showing up in spots all year," Montgomery said of his players. "Lately our execution has been there."
The Bears led by three points on five occasions in the first quarter -- the last at 11-8. From there, Ooltewah went on a 9-0 run on the way to scoring 26 of the next 36 points.
The Owls led by as many as 19 in the third quarter before Bradley battled back within 54-44. But a 3-point goal by Ron King, two free throws by Jaymcal Johnson and a layup by Jarek Boyd off a behind-the-back feed from King and the Owls were right back in control.
"It's all about momentum," Bradley coach Chuck Clark said. "We got a little bit of mo' going right there in the third quarter. I think we cut it to 10 at one time. Then a 3 ball and a layup, they're off to the races and it's all over with."
Johnson scored 16 of his 21 points in the second half for Ooltewah and Ben Snider also scored 21, including 13 in the second quarter. Boyd contributed 16.
Clark said he did a poor job of having his team ready to face the Owls' 3-2 zone. Taylor Bentley ended up leading the Bears with 16 points, and Ty Morgan added 11 off the bench.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.