“We don’t know exactly how many years it’s been since we won the [district] tournament, but we know it’s been a really long time.”
It had been so long that McGavock head coach Paul Childress did not know the last time the Raiders were district champions.
But now, the answer to that piece of trivia will be Feb. 25, 2020.
The Raiders took down Cane Ridge High School 89-66 last Tuesday night and were crowned district champions.
After taking down No. 2-seed Hillsboro, McGavock had to face the regular season district champions on their own floor. And it was a battle. The first half was tightly contested.
Cane Ridge’s Brandon Miller is the No. 9 nationally ranked sophomore, according to ESPN.com. If the Raiders were going to win, they needed to shut him down. Childress decided to guard him aggressively end-to-end to start. Senior Mike Dowlen drew the assignment early and held Miller to zero points in the first period.
The Raiders faced foul trouble as Marvin Hughes, Monté Streate and Dylan Wade each had three fouls by halftime, so Childress had to switch up his defense in the second half.
“We went zone more to put ourselves into situations not to foul as much,” Childress said. “It worked out. They missed some threes. I thought we rebounded well in the second half. It was just a great second half for us.”
After going into the fourth up six points, the Raiders dominated the final stanza, outscoring the Ravens 35-18 to complete a storybook district tournament.
Streate scored 12 of his game-high 29 points in the fourth. He pushed the pace, racing up and down the floor, making shot after shot. He was a leader on the team the entire season.
“He’s just a huge spark,” Childress said. “He goes 100 mph the whole time. He’s very tough to stop in transition. And then when people try to help on him in transition, he finds the open man. That’s a double threat right there. Monté did a great job scoring and finding his teammates.”
Streate said the game plan was not necessarily for him to dominate the ball, but it started on defense. And that would lead to the offensive production.
“Everybody knows the game plan for every team is to get the ball in the bucket,” Streate said. “For us, the game plan was basically to just play defense and stop them from getting as many buckets as they can.”
McGavock senior Mike Dowlen added 18 points in the win. He played a key role late in the season with his scoring, defense and rebounding. Dowlen came into the year from East Nashville Magnet High School, but he was familiar with his teammates before joining the team.
“We all were on the same AAU team,” Dowlen said. “We have chemistry, but once we got every piece of chemistry right, we just gelled good. We’re just working as a team right now.”
“He has really stepped up to the challenge,” Childress said. “It’s his first year with us. I think the chemistry is starting to really be there with him and the other guys. His confidence is there.”
Senior Dylan Wade also came to McGavock this year. He added 17 points. Marvin Hughes said he and Streate have always had confidence in the new guys.
“As a team, me and [Monté] Streate, we’ve been trusting them,” Hughes said. “We know what they are capable of because of what they’ve done at their last schools.”
As the final buzzer sounded, players could not hide their joy, and neither could Childress. Childress gave hugs all around as his eyes welled with tears.
Childress knew how difficult and rare a moment like that was.
“It takes a lot to not only to win this game, but just to get to this game,” Childress said. “When it gets to tournament time, everybody knows everybody’s plays. You’re not going to surprise anybody with anything. It’s just about who’s going to come out and execute, and who’s going to come out and play hard. And we did both.”
Hughes and Streate spent their last four seasons at McGavock, and both said the championship was the pinnacle of their careers.
Hughes said it was, “by far, the best moment.”
Streate said, “Even though we’ve been farther, it’s perfect that we won it all together.”
The season ended four days later in the first round of the region tournament, but the team will go down in the McGavock history books as one of the best ever.
McGavock (89): Monté Streate 29, Mike Dowlen 18, Dylan Wade 17, Marvin Hughes 14, Zion Hicks 5, Devion Jones 4 and Devin West 2.
Cane Ridge (66) – Caleb Wilson 28, Brandon Miller 14, Chris Hillsman 9, William Forbes 6, Royale Tillman 5 and Ryan Oliver 4.