Cavaliers advance to round of 16
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
For one half, a winless Union County basketball team stood toe-to-toe with the Callaway Cavaliers and was threatening to pull off a massive upset.
The second half was a different story.
With seniors Javontay Boddie and Demetrius Coleman leading the way, Callaway blew it open in the final two quarters and beat Union County 65-42 in the opening
round of the Class AA state tournament.
Callaway, the top seed from Region 5-AA, will host Columbia in a second-round matchup on Saturday at 5:30 p.m., with the winner earning a spot in the final eight.
Union County, which finished last out of four teams in Region 8-AA but still qualified for the state playoffs, showed no fear in the first half, and Callaway was clinging to a 22-21 lead as the two teams headed to the locker room.
Union County scored first in the second half to take the lead, but beginning with a Boddie 3-pointer, Callaway was off and running.
By the end of the third quarter the Cavaliers had a 45-36 lead, and they continued to pull away in the fourth quarter to keep their season alive.
Andre Johnson, Callaway’s first-year head coach, stressed the urgency of the situation to the players during the halftime break.
“It’s win or go home,” Johnson said. “Like I told them, the sun will shine on any dog any day if you don’t come in here with the right mentality. I told them, you’re going to have to play. Nobody’s going to lay down because you’ve got Callaway on your chest. You’ve got to play, and they did in the second half.”
Boddie did a lot of the offensive damage for the Cavaliers, and he was unstoppable in the second half.
Boddie finished with a game-high 25 points while making six 3-pointers, and he made four shots from long distance in the fourth quarter.
Fellow senior Demetrius Coleman also had the hot hand for Callaway with 23 points while making a pair of 3-pointers.
While happy to see his team advance, Johnson knows struggling through a half could be a recipe for a disaster against Columbia, a state powerhouse that is one of the favorites to win it all.
“I told them you’ve got to stop being a second-half team, because there’s going to be one game you can’t come back from,” Johnson said. “You’ve got to learn to put four quarters together, and that’s what we’re struggling with.”
It was tight early.
It was tied 13-13 after the first quarter, with Coleman scoring nine points for the Cavaliers.
It remained close in the second quarter, and Callaway had a one-point lead at the half.
With Boddie finding his shooting touch, the Cavaliers took over in the third quarter.
Boddie made four 3-pointers in a span of less than three minutes, and during that time the Cavaliers turned a one-point deficit into a 39-26 lead.
Union County hung tough, and Callaway’s lead was nine points as the fourth quarter began.
Any hope Union County had of mounting a comeback evaporated as Callaway started the fourth quarter on a 12-1 run to take a 20-point lead.
With the game in hand, Johnson was able to make sure everyone on the team got some time on the court in a state-tournament game.