COSBY - Cosby High coach Kurt Brooks had one goal for Friday’s District 2-A semifinal matchup with Greenback
Getting out healthy. But not before having some fun, providing some footage for the highlight reel and getting everyone in on the act.
All were a success in Friday’s 68-42 victory over the Cherokees, who Cosby beat by 75 just three weeks earlier, to advance to Tuesday night’s title game against Hancock County.
Nine different players scored for Cosby, Mr. Basketball finalist Trey Johnson scored 19 points - including a thunderous windmill dunk that collected more social media publicity for the Eagles’ star guard, and everyone made it out healthy.
“Definitely my biggest goal tonight was to get everyone in the game tonight and to get this game over with and get everyone out healthy,” Brooks said.
The Cherokees (2-24) played with Cosby (11-12) for half of the first quarter, with Brooks rotating his players liberally, but once he went back to his starters, the Eagles turned an 8-4 lead into a 35-11 lead at the break.
Johnson scored 13 in the opening half, while senior forward Riley Galler had six, but Shayden O’Dell also had nine and was the team’s best outside shooter in the opening half.
“Shayden got some steals and some big 3-pointers for us,” Brooks said. “He was very active tonight and kept the ball alive and got some offensive boards and kept possession for us too.”
With a 24-point lead at the break, Cosby went back to its starting five at the outset of the second half, which is where Johnson made his highlight reel dunk less than a minute into the quarter.
Off an outlet pass from Galler, the senior exploded from the free-throw line for a windmill dunk that has gotten statewide play on social media in the aftermath of the victory.
Shortly after though, as Cosby built up a 29-point edge, the night was over for the first five, as Brooks turned to the bench.
Greenback cut the Cosby lead at one point to 17 with six minutes to play, but Brooks allowed his freshmen and bench players to finish out the game. It was a valuable lesson for those kids, he said.
“It was huge (to build depth) and get those guys in a postseason game,” Cosby’s second-year coach said. “At one point, (Greenback) cut the lead under 20 and in a way I think that was good for those guys. They had to understand what the lead was and play through it and push the lead back up.”
The Eagles now turn their attention to old rival Hancock County, which beat Jellico by 22 on Friday. The two teams have not met for the District 2-A crown since 2015, but the programs were hotly contesting the league’s regular season title this year.
Cosby owned wins by 5 and 14 points in this year’s regular season meetings.
“Playing Hancock twice this year has been a fight both times,” Brooms said. “The last two years (Hancock County) has slipped up and not met us in the district championship. I know they’re very hungry.”
Tip-off of the championship game is set for Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Cosby.