Calhoun Basketball battled the Rome Wolves and the Adairsville Tigers last Friday and Saturday, respectively, taking three-of-four in a 48-hour span.
Calhoun vs. Rome
The Calhoun Yellow Jackets and the Rome Wolves squared off in non-region competition at Rome High School. The Lady Jackets (3-4) fell to undefeated Rome 61-33, but the Calhoun boys rebounded with a 58-52 come-from-behind win.
“They're resilient,” Yellow Jackets head coach Vince Layson said. “Got a good little chewing at halftime and they never gave up. They came out in the second half (and) executed. That's all I can ask.”
The boys’ game was a tale of two halves. All signs pointed toward a tall, physical Rome team handing Calhoun its second loss of 2019, as the Wolves led 29-19 at the half.
"I think it was more-or-less we came out flat," Layson said. "Once we got into the flow of the game, it got back to us."
The Yellow Jackets started out of the locker room fast, going on a 10-3 run to cut Rome’s edge to 32-29. After three quarters, Calhoun trailed Rome 41-39.
“It wasn't a 'Miracle' speech,” Layson said. “We just changed some things up defensively (and) got a little bit more aggressive on defense. I think that generated some energy for us on both sides (and we) got some easy buckets out of it.”
The fourth quarter saw Calhoun take the lead when Calhoun senior Tonocito Martha hit a three-pointer with 6:48 to play. From there, the Jackets defense proved stingy, outscoring the Wolves 19-11 in the final eight minutes en route to the victory.
Calhoun senior Caleb Boone led the way with 19 points. Fellow senior Gage Maffetone followed close behind with 17.
“They just showed their experience and leadership,” Layson said. “They were able to handle the ball under pressure when they had to. They made free throws when they had to. Shoutout to Caleb Boone because Gage got in early foul trouble in the first half and he had to ... shoulder the load in the first half and then Gage was able to come and help out in the second.”
The Lady Jackets fell 61-33 to Rome. Senior Anna George led the way with 14 points. Freshman Britiya Curtis ended the night with nine.
"It was a non-region (game) so it didn't hurt us, although we still want to win," Lady Jackets head coach Jaime Echols said in a text message. "You don't win or lose, you win or learn. We just have to make sure something good comes from the game. We can do that by learning from the mistakes we made in the game."
The Rome Wolves currently compete in Region 7-AAAAA, the same region Calhoun will move to at the start of the 2020-21 academic year. Both Echols and Layson noted how non-region contests like Calhoun-Rome strengthen growth and provide the group an opportunity to evaluate where they stand.
“We schedule this game strictly because we want to play a team that's bigger than us and more athletic than us, and that's only going to make us better in the playoffs,” Layson said. “We feel like if we're fortunate enough to make it to the playoffs, we're going to probably match up with a team that's bigger, more athletic.”
“Our younger players are coming along,” Echols said. “The more time they get, the more beneficial it is. Britiya Curtis is really starting to learn how her teammates play and what their strengths are.”
Calhoun vs. Adairsville
The Jackets returned to friendly confines for a Saturday tipoff against the Adairsville Tigers. The Lady Jackets (4-4, 3-1 Region 6-AAA) defeated Adairsville 59-25 while the Yellow Jackets (6-1, 3-1 Region 6-AAA) prevailed 76-59 over the Tigers.
"What impressed me was the intensity our kids were able to come out and play with," Echols said. "They didn't let the loss to Rome affect them against Adairsville."
Calhoun prepares to host Cartersville Friday in another non-region contest. However, Friday's contest will be a preview of what's to come, as Calhoun and Cartersville will play in the same region next year after realignment.
"Friday is another chance for us to get better," Echols said. "We're not too worried about next year yet. There is a lot of ball left to play this year and we are focusing on the January grind that is around the corner. I've always said that a big part of your season is determined by what you do in January so that is where our focus will be."
"These games are only going to be good for us," Layson said. "We're going to be playing these guys every night next year, so might as well go ahead and get prepared for it. Get mentally ready."