Monday, April 21, 2014 · 5:50 a.m.

Tyner takes care of East Ridge 68-57

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Tyner freshman Kevin Cameron (21). (Photo: Michael Murphy)

Freshman Kevin Cameron scored a game-high 28 points for Tyner as the visiting Rams remained unbeaten on Tuesday evening, capturing a 68-57 win over East Ridge at Catherine Neely Gymnasium.

“He’s a man child,” Tyner coach Gerald Harris said of the 14-year-old Cameron. “Kevin plays well. Daquan Hardwick didn’t play for us today, but Kevin came in and filled the gap.”

“We came out and played harder,” the 14-year-old added. “We executed well and were patient on offense.”

The Pioneers (1-3, 0-2 District 6-AA), coming off consecutive losses to Ooltewah and Central, kept things close in the first half, maintaining a single-digit deficit by getting to the free-throw line along with hitting some timely three-pointers. 

East Ridge coach Jon Goddard. (Photo: Michael Murphy)

Tyner big man Alex Watkins being on the bench with three first-half fouls certainly helped, too. 

“It was really my fault because I didn’t know [he had three fouls],” Harris said. “He was a little frustrated with that. He’s a big piece of what we’re trying to do, so him being out really hurt. He’s a defensive threat. If he’s not blocking shots, he’s altering shots.”

Pioneers junior JoJo Tillery, who finished with 12 points, buried a three-pointer in the opening moments of the second half to trim his team’s deficit to 31-28.

"East Ridge, they didn't give up," Harris said. "We played a team in Murfreesboro that was kind of like this team; they're gritty and they're going to make some shots. We hung in there, but it was a rough, tough district road game."

That was as close as it’d get, though, as the Rams (4-0, 2-0), who notched a pair of wins at last week’s Siegel Thanksgiving Classic in Murfreesboro, blew the game open in the third.

Tyner’s Darron Maston, an Ooltewah transfer, answered Tillery’s trey with a layup at the other end, sparking a 9-0 run that spotted Tyner a 40-28 advantage with 5:05 left in the third. 

“The game was coming down to two or three possessions, and it could swing either way,” East Ridge head coach Jon Goddard said. “Two or three possessions go our way, and it’s a tight ballgame. If they go their way, it opens up. Obviously, they went their way.”

Maston, who finished with 16 points, added a pair of free-throws in the closing seconds of the third quarter to give the Rams their largest lead of the game, 55-39. Senior guard Sadik Spence finished with 17 points for Tyner, while sophomore guard Devonte Jones chipped in four. Watkins, who collected a pair of second-half blocks, finished with three points.

Eddie Hitchcock finished with a team-high 18 points for East Ridge, which hosts district foe Hixson Friday.

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