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Callaway captures rivalry win

LAGRANGE – With Braylon Sanders showing no signs of rust after making the transition from football to basketball, it was the Callaway Cavaliers opening the season with a 55-52 road win over the Troup Tigers on Friday night.

With a standing-room only crowd looking on, Sanders made five 3-pointers and scored 23 points, and Tamarcus Smith added 16 points for the visiting team.

For Troup (2-2), freshman Kobe Hudson made five 3-pointers and had a team-best 16 points, Jarrious Jefferson added 12 points, and King Mwikuta had 11 points.

The game turned in Callaway’s favor at the start of the third quarter when Sanders had two dunks, a 3-pointer, and an assist as his team turned a 30-24 halftime deficit into a 35-30 lead.

Troup came back and pulled even on a few occasions, but it never had the lead again.

A number of Callaway’s players, including four of the starters, were just one week removed from their final football game of the season, a loss to Benedictine in the final four.

Tryouts were on Monday, and the first practice was a day later, so Callaway didn’t have a whole lot of time to prepare for the Troup game.

“They ran on fumes, on instinct from stuff that we did last year,” Callaway head coach Terry Hayes said. “We missed a lot of shots, but it worked out tonight.”

Troup head coach Paul Brewer said the stretch in the third quarter when Callaway seized the lead was critical.

“We had probably five or six pretty big turnovers to start the third quarter that made us have to play catch-up,” Brewer said. “We’ve got to learn from it.”

Troup appeared to be in control early.

Hudson had the hot touch in the first quarter, making three 3-pointers as Troup surged to a 20-10 lead.

On the final play of the first period, it was Keyshawn Russell completing a three-point play to give his team a 10-point cushion.

Troup led by as many as 12 points early in the second quarter, but Callaway rallied.

A Sanders 3-pointer, his second of the second period, cut Troup’s lead to 26-21 with 4:50 left in the half.

Smith scored moments later to get Callaway within three, but Troup closed the half strong to take a 30-24 lead at the break.

Both teams were having trouble finding their shooting touch in the third period, and more than two minutes had expired before Sanders dunked to make it a 30-26 game.

With 5:15 left in the third period, Sanders made a 3-pointer, and it was a one-point game.

Sanders then assisted on a basket by DQ Wilkerson to give the Cavaliers the lead, and with four minutes left in the third quarter, a Sanders deal and dunk gave the visiting team a 33-30 lead.

Smith then scored with 2:45 left in the quarter to cap an 11-0 run and put Troup in a 35-30 hole.

“That was a big run,” Hayes said. “We got a couple of steals, hit some big threes.”

Finally, with 2:20 to play in the third quarter, Russell scored to give Troup its first points of the second half, and Callaway’s lead was 35-32.

Troup pulled even on a Jefferson free throw, but Mikel Blake made a 3-pointer at the third-quarter buzzer to give Callaway a 38-35 lead.

Callaway never lost the lead in the fourth quarter, although it stayed close.

Callaway’s biggest lead of the fourth quarter came with 3:31 to play when Smith made a pair of free throws to put Troup in a 47-42 hole.

The Tigers hung around, though, and they got within one when Mwikuta scored with 59 seconds left.

Sanders answered with a basket on the other end to give Callaway a 53-50 lead, and following a Troup miss, Courtney Williams made a free throw to make it a 54-50 game with 18 seconds left.

A Mwikuta basket cut Callaway’s lead to two, but there was only two seconds remaining.

Sanders made 1-of-2 free throws to make it a 55-52 game, and a desperation, full-court heave at the buzzer didn’t come close, and Callaway had the win.

Callaway will face another rival today when it hosts LaGrange with tip-off set for 6 p.m.

Troup will be on the road to play Valley at 7:30 p.m.