By Kevin Eckleberry firstname.lastname@example.org
February 28, 2014
It’s been quite a senior year for Pedy Leverette.
During the fall, Leverette was a cornerback and wide receiver on the Callaway football team that made it to the state semifinals where it lost to Buford 24-14.
Now, Leverette is a starter and key contributor on the Callaway basketball team that has also made it to the final four, and the opponent will once again be Buford.
Callaway and Buford will play at 3 p.m. today in Milledgeville.
Leverette’s hope, obviously, is that the outcome is different this time around.
Three other Callaway players, junior Terry Godwin, sophomore Dre Martin, and senior Ed Daniel, were also a part of the football team last fall.
“I believe we’re going to go farther this time,” Leverette said.
The 6-foot-3 Leverette is critical to the Cavaliers’ success.
He only scored seven points in Thursday’s quarterfinal win over Swainsboro, but he was grabbing rebounds, playing lock-down defense, making baskets at key times, and serving as an emotional leader on the team.
“I’m like the motor,” Leverette said. “I have to keep everything going.”
When the season began, Leverette wasn’t sure how good this team could be.
The Cavaliers had a successful 2012-2013 season that included a region championship, and most of the starters on that team were seniors.
Heading into the 2013-2014 season, Leverette knew the team was going to have to rely on some young players.
“At first, we didn’t know (how good we could be),” Leverette said. “And then we started playing games, and I saw how talented we were. I knew we were going to have a great chance.”
When the Cavaliers took the floor for the start of the Swainsboro game, Leverette was the only senior starter, and three of the players were freshmen or sophomores, and one of the first players off the bench is also a sophomore.
Leverette has tried to be a solid example for the younger players by showing that he doesn’t care about the stats.
“I just want to do anything to win,” he said.
If Callaway wins today, it would play for the state championship in Macon.
Whatever happens, Leverette’s time as a high-school athlete is coming to a close, and he appreciates how “special” this run has been.
“It’s real special. It’s exciting,” Leverette said. “This is what we’ve been working for all year is to get to this point. I just want to win it all now.”
BACK AGAIN: For the second time in the history of the program, the Callaway Cavaliers are in the final four.
Callaway also made it to the state semifinals during the 1999-2000 season.
The head coach of that team, Terry Hayes, is also the coach of this team.
Hayes has not only guided two Callaway teams to the final four, but he also led a Hogansville High team to a state championship during the 1995-1996 season.
If Callaway beats Buford today, Hayes will get a chance to add a second state title to his resume.
OTHER SIDE OF THE BRACKET: While Callaway and Buford will mix it up in one semifinal, it’ll be Johnson-Savannah against Morgan County in the other final four match-up.
Johnson outlasted Washington County 53-52 in a thrilling quarterfinal showdown on Thursday.
Johnson took the lead with a pair of free throws with 24 seconds left, and Washington County missed a shot at the buzzer that would have won it.
Morgan County beat Cedar Grove 70-61 to make it to the final four.
The Class AAA championship game will be held in Macon on March 8 at 4:45 p.m.
HOME COOKING: Callaway enjoyed playing at home through the first three rounds of the state tournament.
Callaway beat Peach County, Thomson and Swainsboro on its home court to make it to the semifinals.
“The crowd helps us a lot,” senior Jeremiah Simpson said. “They motivate us.”
The Cavaliers lost six games during the season, and only two of those came at home, and they were on back-to-back days.
Callaway lost to Douglass 74-71 on Jan. 24, and they lost 64-62 to Lanett the following day.