Ringgold tried their best to take away Sonoraville’s top scoring option, Wil Walraven, and had some success with that strategy. But all that happened was two other Phoenix stepped up to pick up the slack.
Walraven, who is averaging more than 20 points per game in the early season, was held to single digits by the Tigers during Friday’s battle of unbeaten Region 6-AAA teams, but his teammates Trent Daniel and Lucas Brooks shouldered the load and led their team to a 63-46 win and a 7-0 record.
Sonoraville’s Daniel caused problems all night for Ringgold as he was able to use his speed and athleticism to get up and down the floor, drive to the basket and also hit some shots from outside to rack up a game-high 22 points. Brooks added 15, including several put-backs from offensive rebounds.
Sonoraville coach Brent Mashburn said his team has gotten used to defenses trying to take away Walraven, but they have other great options to get the job done.
“Wil is a great player, and he’s good enough to affect the game even without scoring,” said Mashburn. “And he’s got a lot of good players around him. Trent stepped up and did a lot of things to cause problems for them tonight, and Lucas and Chris (Rush) were big around the basket. When you have multiple guys that can score the basketball, it makes it hard for defenses to guard you.”
Rush was the third player for Sonoraville (7-0) in double figures with 10. Walraven was limited to seven on the night.
The Phoenix started the game extremely well, jumping out to a 19-0 lead before Ringgold (8-1) finally got on the board with the final six points of the first quarter. After Sonoraville stretched the lead to 23-6 to start the second, the Tigers fought back to cut the deficit to five at 25-20 before the Phoenix took a 31-23 lead into the half.
Sonoraville established control of the game in the third quarter, outscoring Ringgold 17-9 in the period and leading by as many as 20 in the period. The held steady with the lead from there, closing it out with a 15-14 advantage in the fourth quarter.
“This was a big game with two undefeated teams coming in, and we came out and started well,” said Mashburn. “But basketball is a game of runs and they are a good basketball team. They were able to get back in it in the second quarter, but the last few minutes of the second quarter and first few minutes of the third were huge for us. We were able to get some stops and turnovers, and that allowed us to get out in transition and led to easy offense.”
Ringgold was led by Logan Hullender who scored 14 points. Chandler Chastain added nine, and Ammon Murphy scored eight.
Mashburn said this was an important game for his team because of the level of competition and also what it could mean in a few months for region tournament seeding.
“I think it being a region crossover game between two undefeated teams and knowing that it could impact things down the road puts significance on it,” said Mashburn. “But just seeing how we play against a good basketball team was what I wanted to know. We came out and played a pretty solid ballgame on both ends of the floor.”
Sonoraville looks to keep their unbeaten streak going early in the season when they open play in the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Festival on Monday night against Woodland at Georgia Highlands at 7:30 p.m. It is the first-ever appearance in the Holiday Festival for the Phoenix.
“It’s exciting,” said Mashburn. “It’s going to be a new and different scene to play in, and we’re going to see some teams we don’t usually see. It is going to be a new experience, but it’s good to have some momentum early on in the season to take into it, and hopefully we can go down there and have a good week.”
In the Sonoraville-Ringgold girls game earlier on Friday:
Sonoraville 59, Ringgold 44
The Lady Phoenix led for much of the game and withstood a second-half surge from Ringgold to earn a solid Region 6-AAA crossover victory on Friday.
Sonoraville (5-2) led by as many as 13 in the third quarter, but Ringgold (5-3) didn’t go away, battling back to make it 42-36 going at the end of the period. But the Lady Phoenix closed the game out in dominant fashion, outscoring Ringgold 17-8 in the final period to punctuate the win.
“We were able to handle their pressure defense and made some lay-ups to get some momentum turned back our way in the fourth quarter,” said Sonoraville coach Stephanie Caudell. “I thought everyone stepped up in the fourth. That was a game where we could’ve let them make it close at the end, but I’m proud of our girls for keeping their composure and closing things out.”
Freshman Alexa Geary continued her strong play of late with a game-high 22 points to lead Sonoraville. Grace Darnell and Abby Chambers each added nine, and Sandi McMullin and Maliyah Parks scored eight apiece.
Sonoraville jumped out to a 12-4 lead after the first quarter and maintained that eight-point advantage at 25-17 at the half before the Lady Tigers bounced back in the third. Rachel Akers was the lone Lady Tiger to reach double figures with 13 points.
The Lady Phoenix open play in the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Festival on Monday against Armuchee at Georgia Highlands at 6 p.m.