Late rally lifts Cavaliers
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Callaway Cavaliers were down, but a long way from out.
Trailing by eight points midway through the fourth quarter of Friday’s showdown against the rival Heard County Braves, Callaway came roaring back for a dramatic 63-61 victory.
Callaway (8-8 overall) improved to 7-1 in Region 5-AA while completing a regular-season sweep of Heard County.
“I told them this was a playoff atmosphere,” Callaway head coach Terry Hayes said. “That’s how it is. If you’re down, you’ve got to keep fighting, keep fighting, and that’s what happened tonight.”
The Cavaliers took the lead on a Demetrius Coleman basket with 55 seconds left, and they held on for the two-point victory.
It was the Cavaliers’ fifth consecutive victory, and they remain in second place in the region, one game behind the Spencer Greenwave.
“We played hard in the second half, and to come back and win, that’s a testament to their heart,” Hayes said.
Duke Simpson led Callaway with 17 points, and he was one of four Callaway players in double figures in scoring.
Jacob Freeman added 14 points, Antinez Blount scored 12 points, and Javontay Boddie chipped in with 10 points.
Coleman scored eight points, including four points during the decisive fourth quarter.
Alijah Huzzie led Heard County with 23 points, with 19 of those points coming in the second and third quarters combined.
Trailing 35-30, Callaway scored the first six points of the third quarter to grab the lead.
The Braves seemed to take control from there, though, and by the time the third quarter came to a close they had a 51-39 lead.
It was a nine-point deficit when Simpson connected for a 3-pointer, and Heard County’s lead was 55-49.
After the Braves went up by eight, Simpson scored again with a little more than four minutes to make it six-point game once again.
The Cavaliers continued to chip away at their deficit, and when Blount drained a 3-pointer with 2:40 to play, the Braves’ lead was down to 58-57.
Moments later following a Heard County turnover, Coleman was fouled, and he made two free throws to give Callaway a 59-58 lead.
After Simpson steal and score, Callaway was ahead 61-58, but Heard County’s Khalil Cofield knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:33 left to deadlock the score at 61-61.
With less than a minute left, Coleman caught the deflection following a blocked shot, and his short jumper gave the Cavaliers a 63-61 lead with 55 seconds to play.
The Braves let most of the clock run out on the ensuing possession, and Jalin Shephard came through with a clutch steal with six seconds left.
Shephard was fouled, and after he missed a free throw, Heard County came down with the rebound.
The best the Braves could do, though, was a desperation shot from well beyond half court. The shot was nowhere close, and the celebration was on.