In the end, not a whole lot separated the two teams.
The final score showed Section edged Cleveland 49-48 and, if possible, the game was even closer than the one-point margin indicated.
Neither team could pull away from the other. Section’s largest lead was five points while Cleveland’s was three.
The score was tied 8-8 after one quarter and 24-24 at the half.
Section edged ahead 38-35 after three quarters but Cleveland fought back and when Khalil Johnson was fouled shooting a three-pointer with just 24 seconds left, he buried all three free throws to put the Panthers up 48-46.
Section wasn’t done, however, and the Lions quickly answered on the following possession and Logan Short’s three-pointer put the Lions back on top 49-48 with 16 seconds left.
Cleveland called a timeout and Johnson got a good look but his three-point attempt from the corner rimmed out and Section grabbed the rebound and the win.
Cleveland (19-8) got a huge game from Desi Cozad, as the junior guard scored a game-high 18 points, knocking down four-of-seven from behind the arc. Johnson had another big game, finishing with 17 points, 10 rebounds and six blocked shots. Peyton Gilliland added eight points and four rebounds.
Section (26-5) got 14 points and 14 rebounds from Caleb Haynes while Short finished with 11 points.
Cleveland’s win over Collinsville in the first round was the first victory for a Blount County boys team in a regional.
Johnson and Cozad were named to the all-tournament team. They were joined by Elton Datcher Jr., Vincent; Austin Posey, Collinsville; Caleb Henshaw and Caleb Haynes (MVP), Section.