Callaway eyeing region titles
Published 9:23 am Wednesday, February 6, 2019
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
The Callaway Lady Cavaliers have accomplished a great deal during Deyano Martin’s tenure as head coach.
Callaway has consistently made it to the state tournament, and a year ago it beat South Atlanta for the first state win in the history of the program.
The one thing the Lady Cavaliers haven’t done under Martin is win a region championship, though, and they’ll try to remedy that this week.
Callaway is the number two seed in the Region 5-AA tournament, and it will play a semifinal game on Thursday at 4 p.m. at Lamar County High.
Callaway’s boys’ team is also seeded second in the tournament, and it will play at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday at Lamar County.
Both Callaway teams will play again on Saturday, either in the championship game, or in the third-place game.
Both Callaway squads have already qualified for the state tournament, no matter what happens this week.
The Lady Cavaliers (13-9 overall) went 9-3 in region play to earn the number two seed.
Two of Callaway’s region losses came to top-seeded Lamar County, and it also lost to Bremen on the road.
In Friday’s regular-season finale with Lamar County, Callaway hung tough and lost a 78-69 shootout.
Before that loss, the Lady Cavaliers had won seven in a row, so they’re riding high as they begin their pursuit of a region title.
“If we all put it together, we’ve got a chance to beat anybody,” Callaway head coach Deyano Martin said. “But we’ve got to put it together.”
Callaway has made it to the region-championship game the past two years, only to fall short both times.
Callaway lost to Heard County in 2017, and it fell to Lamar County in last year’s title game.
“We want to get over that hurdle,” Martin said. “We’ve been knocking at the door. We’ve got to kick it down.”
This year’s team offers a balance of veterans who’ve been there before, and talented newcomers.
Among the veterans are seniors Kierra Jackson, Qua Beasley, Jasmine Dukes and Haley Holliday.
Freshmen Gabrielle Johnson and Niakoe Burks have provided a spark and have been among the team’s top players.
Callaway’s boys’ team has enjoyed a turnaround season.
A year ago, the Cavaliers went 3-16 and didn’t make it to the state tournament.
It’s been a different story this season for the Cavaliers (11-10 overall), who went 9-3 in region play and finished second behind the Spencer Greenwave.
It’s mostly the same players this season, but they’re all a year older, and a year better.
Sophomores Demetrius Coleman and Javontay Boddie both started as freshmen last season, and juniors Antinez Blount and Duke Simpson saw significant playing time as sophomores.
The team has received a lift from some newcomers, including junior Jacob Freeman and sophomore Jalin Shephard, who has done a nice job at point guard.
“It was a learning year, and we’re still learning,” Hayes said. “But they’ve improved a lot from last year.”