Bucks Basketball Off to Strong Start

Motlow sophomore Isaiah Hart [Photo by Jeff Reed Photography]

Sophomore Rashawn Fredericks recorded three double-doubles, giving him six in his team’s previous seven games, to lead the Motlow Bucks to victory in three consecutive home games last week at Copperweld Arena. Motlow will play its final game before the holiday break when it travels to Boaz, Ala., to face Snead State on Monday, Dec. 11. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

Motlow opened the week by beating Georgia Highlands 97-71 Wednesday. The Bucks followed that with a pair of Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA) wins, beating Cleveland State 84-66 Friday night and Chattanooga State 96-66 Saturday afternoon. Motlow stands alone on top of the TCCAA men’s basketball standings as the only team without a conference defeat.

The Bucks (9-1, 5-0) were ranked No. 9 in the nation in the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) preseason poll. The first regular season poll is scheduled to be released this week, and all indications point to Motlow at least holding its preseason ranking if not moving up a couple of spots. Fredericks will also be a strong candidate for national player of the week honors.

It was the second win of the season over Georgia Highlands, the nation’s No. 18-ranked team in the preseason poll, with the Bucks beating the Chargers 79-60 in Rome to open the season Nov. 1.

Fredericks was spectacular Wednesday night, scoring the first 11 points of the game and finishing with 33 points and 13 rebounds along with three steals and a blocked shot. Motlow blistered the nets, shooting 56 percent from the field, including 8-21 three pointers, and hit 23 of its 28 free throw attempts. The Bucks led 41-31 at halftime and were never really threatened in any of the three home court wins.

Isaiah Hart scored 19 points, hitting 3-5 three pointers, and dished out four assists with two steals. Kevonte Corley barely missed a double-double with nine points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots. David Fraser scored eight points with seven rebounds and three assists, and Dillon Smith had four points, five rebounds, two assists and three steals.

Motlow also got excellent bench contributions from Anthony Yarbrough, who scored seven points with six rebounds; Kin Webster with six points, three rebounds and three assists; and Hayden Edmondson who hit a three pointer and dished out three assists.

The most competitive of the three home games was Friday night against Cleveland State. Although the Bucks led the entire game, including 42-32 at halftime, the Cougars kept the margin around 10 points until the final minutes. Motlow hit 11-26 three pointers, 42.3 percent, and held the Cougars to 35 percent shooting from the field. Motlow dominated the battle of the boards, outrebounding the visitors 57-41.

Hart hit a big basket whenever Cleveland State would begin to make a run, and he led all scorers with 30 points including nailing 11-12 free throws. Hart, who leads the team averaging 19 points and five assists per game, dished out eight dimes against the Chargers and added four rebounds and three steals.

Fredericks scored 22 with 15 rebounds and four blocked shots, while Smith added 17 points and had four rebounds and three steals. Corley was a beast on the boards, leading the Bucks with 16 rebounds while scoring eight points and blocking three shots.

The ‘Fantastic Four’ of Hart, Fredericks, Corley and Smith fought through the fatigue of playing three games in four days and once again led the Bucks to their dominating win over Chattanooga State Saturday. Motlow was never challenged, leading 44-26 at halftime and connecting on 12-27 three-point shots for the game.

Smith took the scoring honors against the Tigers, hitting 4-6 three-point shots and scoring 24 points. Fredericks scored 16 with 11 rebounds, three blocks and three steals; Hart scored 14 with five assists and two steals; and Corley had eight points and 11 rebounds. Zaire Swaby added seven points and a pair of rebounds, Leo Castillo had five points and three rebounds, and Chad Emmons scored four points with four boards.

Following Monday’s contest against Snead State, the Bucks will break for the holidays. Their next contest will be Jan. 5, 2018, when they travel to West Plains, Missouri, for a pair of games. The next home game is Friday, Jan. 19, with Dyersburg State visiting for a 5:30 p.m. tipoff.