The Calhoun Yellow Jackets swept future regional opponent Cartersville in varsity basketball at Calhoun High School on Friday, Dec. 20. The girls won a defensive battle 38-21 while the boys scrapped out a come-from-behind 69-66 victory.
Lady Jackets down Cartersville
The Lady Jackets won their third contest in-a-row after taking down the Lady Hurricanes, running the home court record to 5-0. Friday’s contest was also the lowest-scoring win of the year.
“I thought our defense was as good as it’s been all year,” Lady Jackets head coach Jaime Echols said. “As we transition into playing man, one of the last hurdles we had was defending ball screens and off-ball screens and we looked like we were a little bit more comfortable doing that tonight.”
Offensively, the baskets were hard to come by, as the Lady Jackets score just 12 points in the first quarter and recorded 22 at the break.
“On the offensive end, we were getting the shots we wanted,” Echols said. “We didn’t convert them, but you have nights like that and the main thing is, on the offensive end, we were executing and getting the shot we wanted.”
Calhoun’s defense was on display early, as Cartersville did not score its first points until 48 seconds remained in the first quarter. At halftime, the Lady Jackets led 22-6, as the Lady Hurricanes shot just 3-for-17, or 17.6%.
“We finished the night with 43 rebounds which is OK, but it’s never enough for me,” Echols said. “That’s what we start every day of practice with, a rebounding drill, and we’ve got to dominate the rebound battle to have success going forward.”
Junior Lyndi Rae Davis led the scoring with 12 points, most of her points coming down low in the paint. Freshman Britiya Curtis was close behind, finishing the contest with 10.
With Christmas break about to pass, the Lady Jackets begin to turn their attention to their holiday tournament, the Carpet Capital Christmas Classic, at Christian Heritage School.
“There’s two things as we go into Christmas,” Echols said. “No. 1 is we’ve got to keep getting better. I think we’ve made huge strides and we’ve got to continue doing that. But then, to me, one of the most fun things of any season is playing a Christmas tournament because it’s Christmas time. You always want to win, but it’s not do-or-die region games.”
The tournament begins on Friday, Dec. 27.
‘Cardiac Kids’ Comeback
The Calhoun Yellow Jackets (8-1) proved they can play with 5A teams, as the cardiac-inducing team outlasted a late charge by the Cartersville Hurricanes 69-66 at Calhoun High School on Friday, Dec. 20.
Yellow Jackets’ head coach said his heart was all over the place after the come-from-behind ‘W.’
“I’m going to need a transplant here in about a week if we keep having these games,” Yellow Jackets head coach Vince Layson said. “I’m going to dub them ‘The Cardiac Kids.’”
Calhoun had led for the entire game, but a Cartersville rally saw the Hurricanes take a one-point edge on a three ball with less than a minute to go.
“Basketball is a game of runs,” Layson said. “They’re going to make their run, it’s just how we respond to it, and we thankfully responded the right way.”
Calhoun seniors Gage Maffetone and Caleb Boone, both offensive scoring threats, showed poise and composure, guiding the Jackets back from a potential loss.
Boone would get a bucket on the next offensive series, and free throws by Maffetone and sophomore Jaylan Harris would seal the deal, giving Calhoun five straight victories.
“He’s a warrior,” Layson said on Maffetone. “There was no doubt in my mind that he was going to knock the free throws in. He’s a very confident kid and I knew his mental state, he was going to be fine up there.”
Maffetone led the offensive output, scoring 21 points. Boone tallied 13 overall, but recorded four critical buckets for nine points in the final eight minutes.
“They’ve done what they’ve done all year and what we expect and ask out of them,” Layson said. “Gage had a really good night of scoring the ball. Caleb made some huge buckets right there down the stretch. We kind of tailor our offense around those two guys because they’re so good on the perimeter, both penetrating and shooting the ball.”
Layson said he expected his team to be above .500, but did not quite envision 8-1.
“These guys have been working since August,” Layson said. They’re dedicated. I thought there would be some learning curve for some of the sophomores, but hopefully we can take this momentum and keep building.”
Calhoun/Cartersville is not a region matchup this year, but will become one at the start of next school year.
“We talked ... about the atmosphere and the competition level and how we thought we could go ahead and establish ourselves of being able to compete and play with those guys and we did,” Layson said.
The Yellow Jackets now prepare for the Carpet Capital Christmas Classic Tournament at Christian Heritage on Friday, Dec. 27.