Cavaliers adjust their goals
Published 3:50 am Thursday, January 24, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Callaway Cavaliers headed to Columbus on Tuesday night hoping to create a first-place tie in the region.
Instead, Callaway surrendered more than 100 points while losing to a high-powered Spencer team.
Now, the Cavaliers are adjusting their goals.
With Spencer firmly locked in as the top team in Region 5-AA, Callaway is hoping to lock down the region’s number two spot.
That’s important for a couple of reasons.
If the Cavaliers finish second, they’ll receive a first-round bye in the region tournament, assuring them of a place in the semifinals.
That also means that, no matter what happens in the region tournament, Callaway would be guaranteed a spot in the state tournament.
With three region games remaining, Callaway is in great position to earn the number two spot.
Spencer leads the way with an 8-0 region record, and Callaway is next at 7-2 in the region.
The next closest teams are Heard County and Bremen, who are 5-4 in the region, and Lamar County (3-5), Jordan (1-7) and Temple (1-8) round out the region standings.
Callaway closes its region schedule against Bremen, Jordan and Lamar County as it looks to nail down the number two seed.
Outside of the two losses to Spencer, it’s been smooth sailing for Callaway against region opponents.
The Cavaliers lost seven of their first nine games, but they’re 6-2 since the new year began.
“We’re a really young team,” said Jacob Freeman, a junior who is playing varsity basketball for the first time. “We’ve only got two seniors, and the rest of us are juniors and sophomores. It took us a little while to get our feet under us.”
Two of Callaway’s top players, guards Demetrius Coleman and Javontay Boddie, are sophomores who were starters on last season’s team that didn’t make it to the state tournament.
Sophomore Jalin Shephard has stepped in and thrived as the starting point guard, and juniors Duke Simpson and Antinez Blount have done a terrific job at forward.
In Tuesday’s loss to Spencer, Blount led Callaway with 25 points, and Coleman scored 23 points.
“We’ve done a lot of working in practice, and we’ve kept up the intensity,” Simpson said. “Coach (Terry) Hayes keeps firing us up at practice, telling us how bad we want it. We want it bad.”
On the girls’ side of the region, Callaway is also hanging on to the second spot in the region.
With Tuesday’s win over Spencer, Callaway is 7-2 in the region, and it is still hoping to chase down Lamar County, which is in first place at 8-0.
Callaway also has two teams close behind in Bremen (6-3) and Temple (5-4), who are both hoping to climb to the number two spot.
Heard County (3-6), Spencer (1-8) and Jordan (0-8) are the region’s final three teams.
Since a home loss to Bremen on Jan. 8, Callaway has won four consecutive games, including a dramatic 47-45 overtime win over Heard County on Friday.
Senior Kierra Mitchell, who hit the game-winning shot against Heard County, has scored a combined 40 points in Callaway’s past two games.
Another senior, guard Qua Beasley, has also found her shooting touch of late, and she scored 19 points against Spencer.
Senior Jasmine Dukes has had a terrific season, and she delivered the perfect lob pass to Mitchell for the game-winning shot against Heard County.
Callaway has gotten a lift from a handful of freshman.
Guard Gabrielle Johnson, who has been an explosive player since the first game, has been a consistent double-digit scorer, and she has 12 points against Spencer.
Guard Niakoe Burks has been an effective player for the Lady Cavaliers, and freshman post player Camryn Stargell has provided a boost the past few games after returning from an injury.
Lamar County 18-2, 8-0
Callaway 10-8, 7-2
Bremen 9-11, 6-3
Temple 12-10, 5-4
Heard County 9-10, 3-6
Spencer 3-16, 1-8
Jordan 1-18, 0-8
Spencer 17-3, 8-0
Callaway 8-9, 7-2
Heard County 7-11, 5-4
Bremen 10-10, 5-4
Lamar County 6-13, 3-5
Jordan 6-14, 1-7
Temple 7-15, 1-8