Callaway Middle School teams win titles
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
It was the status quo for a group of girls who have known nothing but success this season.
Callaway Middle School’s girls’ basketball team came into the City-Wide Christmas Shoot-out at LaGrange High having won every one of its games this season.
That didn’t change over the course of the four-day tournament, which featured elementary -school and middle-school teams.
In the middle-school girls’ division, Callaway Middle went 3-0 to claim the championship.
In the championship game against cross-town rival Gardner Newman, Callaway won 30-17 to improve to 10-0.
Gardner Newman, which also enjoyed a successful tournament, hung tough for a while and was within two points early in the second half, but Callaway eventually took control and eased to the 13-point win.
In the boys’ middle-school division, Callaway Middle also took the top spot with a 34-22 victory over Randolph-Clay in the championship game.
In the elementary-school division, Berta Weathersbee claimed first place with a 28-15 win over Ethel Kight Gold in the title game.
In the middle-school girls’ division, Callaway was the dominant team, and that’s nothing new.
“That first five I put on the floor works real well together,” said Jimmy Askew, Callaway’s head coach. “We’re averaging about 40 points a ballgame, and our opponents are averaging 14 points a game. That’s really good. We play good defense, and we can put it in the hole.”
Jazmin Thornton and Talasia Thomas did most of the scoring for Callaway.
Thornton led the way with 15 points, and she scored 10 of those points in the second half when Callaway pulled away.
Thomas had nine points, and eight of those points came during the second half.
Tayniya Mahone added four points for Callaway, and Keiyunna Maddox had two points.
For Gardner Newman, ZyAriyah Brewer led the way with 11 points, and Zykia Gray, Chandreuna Pope and Peyton Swint also got into the scoring column.
Gardner Newman beat Valley 23-6 and Randolph Clay 16-8 before meeting its match in Callaway.
Callaway, meanwhile, handled South Girard 42-12 and Lafayette 43-18 before beating Gardner Newman.
Callaway has three regular-season games remaining, and then it will host the county tournament on Jan. 29 and Jan. 30.
The team’s goal is to finish the season with a perfect record, and Askew said “I believe we’re going to do it. We’re going to work hard over the holidays and try to stay focused, and get some good things done in 2020.”
In the middle-school boys’ division, Callaway went 3-0 to finish first.
After dispatching South Girard 36-27 and Lafayette 39-28, Callaway found itself matched up with Randolph Clay in the championship game.
Callaway finished the first half on a 5-0 run to take a 17-10 lead, and it carried that momentum over into the second half.
Bryceston Sanders hit a 3-pointer early in the second half to put Callaway on top 20-10, and the lead was at least seven points the rest of the way.
D’Arcy Harris led Callaway Middle with 10 points.
“I’m very proud,” said Andre Johnson, Callaway’s head coach. “This group of boys, I tell them all the time, last year’s group was more athletic, but this year’s group, they’re mentally tough, and they’re focused. I really like the way they’re stepping up, and their leadership is showing. There’s camaraderie, and they stick together and pick each other up. They never put each other down.”
Johnson believes the close-knit nature of the team helps lead to success on the court.
“Like I tell these guys, when you have the mentality that you’re playing for your brothers and you play together, you’ll always succeed,” Johnson said.
To help foster that brotherhood, Johnson gets the team members together before the season, and that has paid dividends.
“Every year as soon as the team is picked we do a sleepover at my house, so we have to bond at first, and then they’ll trust each other,” Johnson said.
In the elementary-school division, Berta Weathersbee took care of business, beating cross-town foe Ethel Kight Gold 30-17 in the title game.
Terrence Tiggs had a big game for Berta Weathersbee with 12 points.
ZyCorius Dandy made a 3-pointer and scored eight points for Berta Weathersbee, and Corde McGruder added seven points.
In the third-place game, Ethel Kight Blut beat Long Cane 33-8.
Earlier in the tournament, Berta Weathersbee topped Ethel Kight Blue 27-14, and Ethel Kight Gold beat Long Cane 25-5.
OF NOTE: For more photos, check out Facebook.com/LDNSports