It was a daunting task ahead of the Raiders in the opening round of the 48th District Boys Basketball Tournament Tuesday night.
Facing off against Southwestern, who entered the game as one of the top two teams in the 12th Region, and top 15 in the state, McCreary would need to play at their highest level for a chance to pull off an upset.
A slow start put the Raiders in a hole they spent the rest of the game trying to dig out of, ultimately falling to the Warriors, 76-53.
Much like the Lady Raiders on the previous night, McCreary had trouble getting shots to fall in the first quarter, missing 9 of 12 attempts in the first 8 minutes that gave the Warriors a near-insurmountable 22-7 lead at the end of the period.
Ryan Jones came off the Raiders bench in the second quarter and tried to jump-start the offense, scoring 7 points, but the Southwestern defense held strong, limiting the rest of the roster to only 3 points in the quarter and the Warriors held a 42-17 advantage at the break.
McCreary finally started to shake things up in the third quarter, with Devon Hamilton knocked down four baskets for 9 points, and Ryan Strunk contributed 8 of his 15 total for the game.
But all that scoring just allowed the Raiders to keep pace with the Warriors, and they went into the final frame trailing 67-40.
With the game firmly in hand Southwestern Coach Steve Wright started to pull his starters, and McCreary’s Coach Rob Jones used the opportunity to get his five seniors, Cole Kidd, Caleb Dixon, Trystan Adkins, Codey Phillips and Hunter Bryant, some spotlight time in front of the home crowd.
After the game Coach Jones said his team knew what they were facing in the game, but refused to back down, and that was something to be proud of.
“I thought we competed well,” Jones said. “We had a pretty good game plan, but missed some shots early. Against a team like that, you can’t spot them that many points early and play catch up the rest of the game.”
“We played hard, I thought our kids left it all on the floor and never quit.”
The Warriors will advance to the 48th District Championship game on Friday night when they will play Wayne County.
The Raiders ended the season with a record of 8-16.
D. Hamilton -15,
R. Jones -15,
H. Jones -7, J. Cash -6,
C. Kidd -5, C. Phillips -2, T. Adkins -2,
D. Strunk -1.