Lady Cavaliers win region championship
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
FRANKLIN – They came, they saw, they conquered.
The Callaway Lady Cavaliers, facing the rival Heard County Braves in the Region 5-AA championship game on Friday night in Franklin, walked away with a hard-earned 56-50 win.
“We stayed poised,” said Callaway head coach Deyano Martin. “I’m super-proud of them. We never stopped fighting. We had a couple of balls bounce our way and that helped us out, but that happens when you play hard. I’m just super-proud. I’m so proud of these girls I don’t know what to do.”
The Lady Cavaliers, who trailed 32-31 at the half, limited the Lady Braves to four points in the third quarter to take a 39-36 lead.
Callaway maintained the lead throughout the fourth quarter, and it pulled away in the final minute to win by six.
“It’s a big moment,” said junior guard Gabrielle Johnson, Callaway’s leading scorer this season. “We’ve been working for this since I was in the ninth grade.”
Johnson led the Lady Cavaliers with 17 points, and post players Lacy Thomas and Camryn Stargell added 16 and 12 points, respectively.
The Lady Cavaliers knew they had an edge in the paint, and they took advantage of that with Thomas and Stargell getting a lot of touches.
“They executed the game plan,” Martin said. “The game plan was to get the ball down low, and we did a good job of that. I’m proud of all the effort.”
The Lady Cavaliers led by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter, but the Lady Braves didn’t go away, and they got within three points twice in the final four minutes.
The Lady Cavaliers hung tough and made the plays necessary to secure the clutch road win, though.
“We kept our energy up, and we finished the game,” Johnson said.
The Lady Cavaliers were clinging to a 43-40 lead early in the fourth quarter when they went on a 6-0 run to go up by nine with 4:43 to play.
Back came Heard County, which scored six straight points to cut Callaway’s lead to 49-46 with 3:30 to play.
The lead was still a skinny three points when Stargell scored and was fouled with 1:57 to play. Stargell missed the free throw after the foul, but Thomas came up with the loose ball and scored, and Callaway was ahead 55-48 with 1:53 showing on the clock.
Callaway’s lead was at least five points the rest of the way.
Callaway will host a game in the first round of the state tournament next week.