The Cavaliers beat the Rockmart Yellow Jackets by two points Friday night when senior Nehemiah Jones dropped a 3-pointer through the net for the game-winner.
Hayes had no problem with Jones taking the shot, although the play Hayes called in the huddle didn’t come to fruition when the team went back on the court after a timeout.
Jones ended up with the ball, and considering the night he’d had to that point, there really was no other player to take the shot.
Jones had already scored 32 points when he took the pass with time winding down, and his 3-pointer gave him a 35-point night, and it gave the Cavaliers a 69-68 victory.
Callaway went on to hammer Chapel Hill 55-46 on Saturday to move to 2-0 in Region 4-AAA.
As for Friday’s game, it was a special moment for Jones, who reached a career high in points and made one of his biggest shots as a Cavalier.
In fact, Jones said he’s never had a better moment.
“It was the best feeling I’ve ever had,” Jones said. “It felt good to do that for my team.”
As for the final shot, Jones said it looked good when it left his hands.
“It felt good,” he said. “I thought it was in.”
Jones is having a terrific senior season, and Hayes said he’s been a great “leader” for the team.
“He’s a good athlete, and he has a good basketball IQ,” Hayes said. “He keeps us on an even keel.”
The whole team remained on an even keel even as the losses mounted in non-region play.
The Cavaliers started 1-5, although they had chances to win everyone of those games they lost.
Hayes wasn’t discouraged with the slow start, because he felt playing tough competition would have the Cavaliers ready for the start of region competition, and indeed the team is off to a 2-0 start in region play.
“I think that made us better,” Hayes said of the tough early games. “I told the kids, if they keep working hard, good things will happen.”
Hayes believes all of those close games the Cavaliers were involved in early paid dividends during a back-and-forth game against Rockmart.
“We had a little adversity, and we handled it,” Hayes said. “We persevered throughout.”
Looking down the road, the Cavaliers are hoping to return to the state tournament after making it last season.
The Cavaliers lost their first-round game last season, and Jones said the goal is to improve on that performance this year.
“We want to take it a step further,” Jones said.
The Cavaliers will try to keep rolling in region play with three games this week, beginning with today’s game at Douglass-Atlanta, which is 3-8 overall and 1-1 in region play.
On Friday, Callaway is at home against Jackson-Atlanta (3-7, 2-0) before finishing the week on Saturday with a road game against Haralson County (2-10, 1-1).
Callaway’s girls’ team, meanwhile, is 5-3 overall and 1-1 in region play after beating Rockmart Friday and losing to Chapel Hill on Saturday.
The Lady Cavaliers have already matched their win total from a year ago.