Revenge Tour: #9 Cleveland tops #6 East Hamilton, Looks to Avenge Loss to #7 Walker Valley

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Revenge Tour: #9 Cleveland tops #6 East Hamilton, Looks to Avenge Loss to #7 Walker Valley

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A little more than a month ago, the Raiders were the talk of the community.

Now, they’re the talk of the community, but for the right reasons. Real good reasons.

A few words come to mind when describing the effort of Cleveland over these last nine victories, including Bradley Central, McMinn County, and now East Hamilton.

They’ve been incredibly resilient, and they’ve tuned out the noise. They’ve played with a chip on their shoulder, and it’s shown.


In their first matchup this season, the game was closer than the score indicated. The final score was 63-49 with the Hurricanes coming out on top, but a few questionable technical foul calls made the score worse than it seemed.

This one in the Raider Arena was never in doubt.

2020 PG Jacobi Wood and 2019 CG Isaiah Johnson are one of the best, if not THE best duo in East Tennessee. They get a bucket based on how the defense is playing. Their basketball IQ is nearly unmatched, and they seem to always be in sync. Wood dropped 31 points and Johnson had 13, 11 in the first half.

Grant Hurst added some timely buckets in the second half and the entire team played defense at an elite level to hold the #6 Hurricanes to just 40 points in total.

The final from the Raider Arena was 60-40. As Raiders forwards Dustin Bunton and Darius Howard would say, another “twenty piece” for Cleveland.


Up next on the “revenge tour” is the Walker Valley Mustangs.

They’ve stunned everyone but themselves this season, and a year after Cleveland absolutely destroyed them 3 times, they took the first meeting between the two teams.

Blake Campbell kicked the game off with two DEEP treys, and names like Noah Duprey and Jordan Munck were incredibly clutch down the stretch to seal a Walker Valley win.

But with that said, and all credit to the Mustangs, Cleveland was without one of the best defenders in the state in Isaiah Johnson. Johnson has stepped up as a leader this year, and has the respect of all his teammates.

“Having Isaiah playing this time… it relieves a lot of stress for the rest of the team,” Cleveland PG Jacobi Wood told CHSLive.  “He’s a great leader and makes a great impact offensively and defensively.”


A few nights ago, Grant Hurst and Kley McGowan stole the show. Against East Hamilton, it was Jacobi Wood and Isaiah Johnson. Nightly, Darius Howard, Logan Colbaugh, Michael Dale, and Alex Williams show up with hustle plays, key rebounds, extra passes, and lockdown defense.

Cleveland may not have the deepest bench, but you can be sure that every player on this team will give their all when they’re on the hardwood.

On Friday, I expect Isaiah Johnson to play with a chip on his shoulder against his former team. He can score in the paint over bigger defenders, pull up from deep, hit the midrange with confidence, and flat out lock up any opposing player. If Isaiah keeps his cool and lets his game do the talking and, as Coach McCowan tells the team, plays with PASSION over EMOTION… I like Cleveland’s chances.

X-Factor: Kley McGowan, Sophomore: We know Wood & Johnson are experienced and are going to get buckets one way or another. But McGowan is young and has an extremely bright future. He showed just what he could do last Friday, going 6 of 6 from long range and 9 of 10 from the field against McMinn County. He shot every shot with confidence KNOWING it was going in. No hesitation, just basketball. I think if Kley shows up and knocks down a few timely shots, Cleveland is going to win. Give Kley 3 threes and several big steals. 

Walker Valley

Will Campbell is just in his first season, and he’s likely going to win Coach of the Year. The Mustang players are mostly the same, so you can attribute a good bit of this success to Campbell, and the players’ respect for him. You won’t see two teams work harder for every loose ball than Walker Valley and Cleveland.

Will’s son Blake Campbell is a guy that I completely missed in the preview of the first game. I didn’t realize the impact Campbell has on the game from deep. Hand in his face or not, he’s knocking down difficult threes. The same goes for Jordan Munck. Munck is an incredible facilitator for the Mustangs offense, and he’ll knock a few shots down in your grill as well. Duprey is a nice complement to the team in the paint. He had a “quiet” 18 and 17 game last matchup.

X-Factor: Blake Campbell: As previously mentioned, Campbell is a deep range deadeye. Dude can shoot from just about any spot on the court, and he can do it consistently. It’ll be interesting to see if Cleveland can run his off the three point line, but Walker Valley does a nice job of implementing a good bit of screens into the offense. 

This is going to be one of the best games of the year. Cleveland dominated their other cross-town-rival Bradley Central this year, so there’s not been much of a nail biter for Cleveland and its rival this year yet.

The last matchup, the last shot in the 3rd and the first few minutes of the 4th proved the biggest moment of the game. Munck hit 3 threes in that time span and didn’t look back.

We’ll see how this one goes. If Cleveland plays how they’ve been playing, they’ll win their tenth in a row.

Same could be said for the Mustangs.

This one’s gonna be fun.