Cavaliers pass state test
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
SUMMERVILLE – They believed.
No matter what happened during Thursday’s state-tournament showdown against home-standing Chattooga County, the Callaway Cavaliers never lost the faith that they would be the team standing at the end.
They were right.
The Cavaliers broke open a close game midway through the third quarter, and they cruised to a 71-59 victory to reach the quarterfinals of the Class AA state tournament.
It was the second consecutive road win over a higher-seeded team for Callaway, which finished third in Region 5-AA.
After a dramatic 86-83 overtime win over Banks County in the first round, Callaway made it two-for-two on the road with a comfortable victory over a Chattooga team that won a region championship.
“We just keep doing what we’re doing, and just go on to the next game,” said sophomore JaVontay Boddie, who led the Cavaliers with 23 points. “And now we’re into the elite eight. That feels pretty good right there.”
Terry Hayes, Callaway’s veteran coach who has led so many teams deep into the state tournament, said the players are “believing in themselves.”
“They’re buying into the process, buying into the game plan,” Hayes said. “They believe in the coaches.”
While Boddie led the way with his 23 points, fellow sophomore Demetrius Coleman followed up his 43-point performance against Banks County by scoring 20 points against Chattooga.
Coleman made five 3-pointers for the second consecutive game, and he made three shots from long-distance in the fourth quarter against Chattooga as Callaway put it away.
Antinez Blount had an exceptional all-around game.
Blount scored eight points, and he made an impact blocking shots, pulling down rebounds, and playing lock-down defense.
Malvis Moss got a lot of playing time at guard and scored six points, and Duke Simpson also had six points.
Jacob Freeman came off the bench and added four points, all in the second quarter, and Jalin Shephard had four points.
It was a complete performance for the Cavaliers, and Coleman said it was an example of the players taking what they worked on in practice into the game.
“It’s just like at practice,” Coleman said. “Coach Hayes gives us the game plan, and we just did what we were taught to do.”
The Cavaliers showed they were ready to play from the get-go as they surged to a 10-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.
The Cavaliers were ahead by 11 after Shephard made a 3-pointer, but the Indians found their footing and cut the deficit to 17-12 by the close of the quarter.
The Indians continued their surge in the second quarter, and they took a 25-23 lead with less than three minutes left in the half.
The Cavaliers needed someone to provide a lift, and Boddie was the man for the job.
Boddie scored nine consecutive points to give the Cavaliers a five-point lead, and they were ahead 32-29 at the half.
“In the first half, they weren’t guarding me back door, so I just kept doing that until they stopped it,” Boddie said.
The Cavaliers took control in the third quarter.
The Cavaliers were ahead by six when Blount pulled down an offensive rebound.
Blount went up strong and was fouled while scoring, and he made the free throw to give Callaway a 44-35 lead.
By the time the third quarter ended, Callaway had a 48-39 lead.
The Indians, with a home crowd spurring them on, were unable to make a charge in the fourth quarter.
It was an eight-point game when Coleman knocked down a 3-pointer to give the Cavaliers a 59-48 lead with 3:55 left.
By the time Coleman made another 3-pointer with 1:07 to play, the Cavaliers were ahead by 18 points, and the game was effectively over.
The Cavaliers are in the state quarterfinals for the third time in five years, although this is a new experience for most of the players.
The Cavaliers won three games last season, and now they’re three victories away from a title.
“We just wanted to get to the playoffs,” Hayes said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. You’ve got to believe, and they did.”
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