Cavaliers happy to be at home
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
For the Callaway Cavaliers, it’s nice to be at home.
The Cavaliers missed the state tournament during the 2017-2018 season, and all three of their state games were on the road last year.
On Saturday at 4 p.m., Callaway (14-7) will get to play a state-tournament game at home for the first time in three years, and its opponent will be Model, which will make the trip south from Rome.
“I told the kids this is the first time they’ve been at home since the 2016-2017 year, so we’ve got to take advantage of it,” said Terry Hayes, Callaway’s veteran head coach. “Grasp the moment.”
Callaway earned its state-tournament invitation by finishing second in the Region 5-AAAA tournament.
After beating Temple in the semifinals, Callaway lost to Spencer in the championship game.
Many of the players who’ll be on the court for Saturday’s game were a part of the 2018-2019 team that reached the state quarterfinals.
Among those players is junior Demetrius Coleman, who had 43 points during a first-round victory over Banks County last season.
Callaway followed that up with a 71-59 win over Chattooga before losing to Laney 63-44 in the quarterfinals.
Juniors Javontay Boddie and Jalin Shephard and seniors Duke Simpson and Jacob Freeman were also key players on last season’s team.
Among the players who provide depth for Callaway are Marvize Moss, Jymere Jones and Charlie Dixon.
Most of Callaway’s players were also on the football team that advanced to the state semifinals.
Football season didn’t end until December, and the players took a few days off before joining the basketball team.
For Hayes, an assistant coach in football, having to wait until December to get the full basketball team together is a good thing.
“I don’t complain about that, because it means we’re going late in the season (in football),” Hayes said. “When we get there, we hit the ground running. We come together as a team, and we play together as a team. We do play hard, and then we get our feet under us, we start gelling.”
Callaway has won 10 of its past 13 games, with two of those losses coming to Spencer.
“We learned from (the Spencer losses),” Hayes said. “You have to take advantage of your chances. A team like that, you get a turnover, you’ve got to convert it. If you get a rebound, you’ve got to convert. You can’t give up a chance to score in a game like that.”
Callaway’s opponent is a Model team that has had an outstanding season.
Model (18-8 overall) tied for second in Region 7-AA with an 11-3 record, and it beat Coosa in the third-place game after losing to Rockmart in the semifinals.
“They’ve got good size, and they’ve got guards that can shoot,” Hayes said. “We’ve got to contest every shot, and box out.”
CALLAWAY VS. MODEL
WHAT: First round of Class AA boys state tournament
WHEN: Saturday, 4 p.n.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Callaway (14-7) finished second in Region 5-AA; Model (18-8) finished third in Region 7-AA
UP NEXT: The winner will play Berrien or Washington County in the second round