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Big season for Lady Cavaliers

By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY

Daily News

It has all come together for the Callaway Lady Cavaliers.

The Lady Cavaliers had their struggles early in the season, but they’re riding high heading into the state tournament.

Callaway has won eight of its past 10 games, and it will look to stay hot as it visits Elbert County in the opening round of the Class AA state tournament.

Elbert County finished second in the Region 8-AA tournament to earn a home game in the state playoffs, and it will host Callaway today at 6 p.m.

Callaway lost to Bremen in the Region 5-AA semifinals before bouncing back to beat Heard County 49-46 to finish third.

Callaway was 1-6 after a home loss to East Coweta on Dec. 22, but head coach Deyano Martin’s team has been soaring since then.

Callaway is 13-3 since that slow start, and it won eight in a row before losing a close one to region-champion Lamar County in the regular-season finale.

It’s a team with a mixture of veterans, including seniors Qua Beasley, Jasmine Dukes, Haley Holliday and Kierra Jackson, and talented freshmen in Gabrielle Johnson, Niakoe Burks and Camryn Stargell.

The seniors have been a part of some special moments over the years, including last year’s breakthrough win over South Atlanta in the opening round of the state tournament.

That was the state win in the history of Callaway’s girls program.

Martin is appreciative of the time and effort the seniors have given to the program.

“You have a group of girls stay on the team, and they’ve been with you since they were freshmen, and they grow up, they change over the years,” Martin said. “You’re proud of them.”

Jackson provided one of the season’s top highlights when she made the game-winning shot in a 47-45 home win over Heard County.

Another one of the seniors, Dukes, made a perfect pass to Jackson, who hit the short jumper.

The three freshmen have each stepped up and had terrific seasons.

Johnson and Burks are guards, and they’ve been among the leading scorers all season.

Stargell, a post player, missed a significant portion of the season with an injury, and she provided a spark when she returned to the lineup a few weeks ago.

“She’s been a big addition,” Martin said of Stargell.

Johnson, Burks and Stargell all made the all-region team, as did Jackson and Dukes.

Elbert County brings a losing record into today’s game, but it won a pair of games in the region tournament to not only qualify for state, but secure a home game.

Elbert County finished sixth in the region during the regular season, and it beat two higher-seeded teams to reach the championship game of the region tournament.

CALLAWAY VS. 

ELBERT COUNTY

WHEN: Today, 6 p.m.

WHERE: Elbert County

WHAT: Opening round of the Class AA state tournament

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Callaway (14-9) finished third in the Region 5-AA tournament; Elbert County (11-17) finished second in the Region 8-AA tournament

UP NEXT: The winner plays either Washington or Rockmart in the second round