Late rally lifts Lady Cavaliers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The situation was desperate.
With less than six minutes remaining, the Callaway Lady Cavaliers were staring at an eight-point deficit against visiting South Atlanta in the opening round of the Class AA state tournament on Friday.
If the Lady Cavaliers couldn’t find a way to rally, their season would come to a close on their home court.
Callaway wasn’t going to be denied, though.
After South Atlanta scored to go up 49-41, Callaway finished the game on a 13-0 run to take a 54-49 victory and advance to the round of 16.
“I felt like they weren’t ready for the season to end,” Callaway head coach Deyano Martin said. “I’m not ready for the season to end. So we’re going to keep playing. We didn’t play a great game, but we played good enough.”
For the team’s lone senior, Chyna Cameron, it was a particularly special and impactful moment.
Cameron was on the floor last season when Callaway lost at home in the first round of the state tournament, and she was thrilled that history didn’t repeat itself.
“It means everything to me,” Cameron said. “This is our first time (winning at state) since 2003. So it means everything.”
Callaway trailed by six after three quarters, and that deficit grew to nine with 6:02 to play.
Beginning with a pair of Jasmine Dukes free throws with 5:32 to play, Callaway was off and running.
With 3:40 remaining, Kierra Jackson pulled down an offensive rebound and scored, and South Atlanta’s lead was down to one.
That’s the way it remained until, with 1:40 to play, Cameron scored to give the Lady Cavaliers a 50-49 lead.
Cameron, after spending a significant portion of the fourth quarter on the bench, scored five of Callaway’s final six points.
Cameron led Callaway with 18 points, and Jasmine Dukes scored 13 points, and she was 5-of-5 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
Haley Holliday added 11 points, and Jackson scored seven points.
Sophomore Leijorey Sanders scored five points and did a nice job of running the offense from the point-guard position.
Callaway started quickly and had a 14-9 lead after the first quarter, but South Atlanta rallied in the second period to take a 23-20 lead at halftime.
South Atlanta led by as many as eight points in the third quarter when Dukes hit a pair of 3-pointers to get Callaway within four.
By the close of the third quarter, South Atlanta’s lead was 42-36.
South Atlanta carried that momentum into the fourth quarter and scored seven quick points to take a nine-point lead before Callaway came storming back for the victory.
“This is a big-time step,” Martin said. “The girls know they can win.”