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Raiders face off against Pickett County on Monday in substate game

The Raiders were all smiles last Thursday night as they beat Cascade for the Region 4A Championship title. The win got them another home game. They take on Pickett County in a substate game on Monday at MCHS. (Photo Credit: Jeff Reed Photography)

LYNCHBURG — Moore County High School may sit in one of the smallest counties in Tennessee but that doesn’t mean our boys’ basketball team isn’t a big deal.

No strangers to the TSSAA Class A Boys’ Basketball Tournament, the Raiders have appeared in the state tournament eight times in recent history: 1985, 1986, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1995, 1999, and 2008 — taking home the Class A trophy in 1999.

Similarly, another appearance in the high school version of March Madness is just on the horizon for the Raiders but they must play through Pickett County to get there. The Raiders (14-10, 7-3) will take on the Bobcats ( 15-5, 9-2) in Lynchburg on Monday for a chance to reach the TSSAA Class A Elite Eight for the first time since 2008.

Likewise, the Pickett County Bobcats will travel 132 miles to Lynchburg looking to add a third trophy to their case. The Bobcats took home the gold ball in 1990 and 1995 and placed runner up in 1993.

Will the Columbia blue David or Goliath win on Monday?

The W for Moore County will likely depend on their ability to shut down Bobcat junior Zach Amonett (#15) — a six foot two guard who’s ranked number three in the state in points per game. His 24.5 average lifted Pickett County to a near perfect District 6 record. The Raiders will also need to play smart, disciplined defense against Amonett to advance as he ranks number 18 in the state at the free throw line with 74 charity stripe points.

Monday night’s game will likely test whether a single all star player can beat five smaller, less flashy but scrappy team players.

The seniors for Moore County — Brayden Cashion, Andrew Copeland, Riley Holman, and Dylan Scruggs — each bring their own skill set into Monday’s game.

Cashion has been the leader of the Raider team all season. That fact felt apparent on March 1 against LEAD Academy when he got fouled and fell hard — laying under the basket for several minutes before being helped of the floor by staff. He did not re-enter the game and his brothers in Columbia blue missed him as they struggled to hold off the Eagles fourth quarter comeback. He leads the Raiders with 333 points.

Andrew Copeland shows up for his teammates as the rare player who is money on offense and tenacious on defense. He the second highest scoring Raider with 253 total points going into the Pickett County game. Copeland also leads the Raiders in blocked shots with 32 and defensive rebounds with 93. He often shows up out of no where to bring down rebounds that give Moore County back possession and chances to win.

Moore County guard Riley Holman swishes as a high scorer for the Raiders with 220 total points. He’s also a player with a rocky solid basketball IQ, according to Raider coaches, who is quick to force a steal or snag a rebound based on his knowledge of the intangibles of the game.

Defensive star Dylan Scruggs would be the “Hulk Smash” part of this Raider team. He guards the paint and inside scoring with solid, play-stopping discipline. Many opponents challenge him in the lane only to walk away with missed shot without the benefit of a trip to the line. He also makes crucial, game-winning shots at the line — shooting an impressive 69 percent at the charity stripe.

Two juniors also add stones to the Raider’s arsenal.

Point guard Colton Bateman shows up with the intangibles. He’s quick to bail out a Raider backed into a corner or drive into the paint to allow a teammate to set up for a three. He’s that rare unselfish player whose value doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet but remains crucial to the Raider’s success. He and Cashion run the Raider offense with a disciplined determination. Their ball handling skills shows up for the Raiders in time of possession — a battle the Raiders have mostly won all season.

Will Harder too doesn’t put up flashy numbers but when his three point shooting gets hot, he can be a difference maker for the team. On February 22 against Eagleville, Harder swished an impressive four from the three point line including three in a row to get the Raiders back within striking distance. Raider coaching staff say he’s the Raiders’ boost of offense off the bench — a player who’s a shot of energy when the boys in Columbia blue need it.

At the end of the game on Monday, either David or Goliath will head to the state playoffs to face the winner of the Harriman v. Cosby game.

Monday night’s tip off is at 7 p.m. The TSSAA allotted each school 300 tickets, which are available until they sell out at this link. You can also watch the Moore County Sports Network’s student broadcasting team on the NFHS network. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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