The Sonoraville Phoenix had a chance to accomplish three goals with one win on Tuesday night, and they took advantage of it.
The Phoenix locked down the top spot in the 6-AAA South, secured the right to host the Region 6-AAA Tournament and clinched a state tournament berth with an impressive 71-54 home victory over Adairsville thanks to an incredible offensive start, dominant rebounding effort and stingy defense.
Sonoraville (21-3, 6-1 6-AAA South) came out firing on all cylinders, hitting eight 3-pointers in the first half and going on separate 15-0 runs, one in the middle of the first quarter and the other to start the second quarter to build as much as a 40-12 lead before coasting to the victory. Sonoraville coach Brent Mashburn said to get off to a start like that in a game with so much on the line was just what they needed.
“It’s one of those games where it’s a great atmosphere and a lot was on the line so the better start you get off to, the more you settle in and just play basketball,” said Mashburn. “Wil (Walraven) knocked down some shots early and some other guys did as well. Our goal tonight offensively was to attack. We wanted to have that mindset whether that meant attacking with the dribble, the pass or the shot. And basketball is a fun game when the ball goes in the basket like it did in the first half tonight.”
The victory put Sonoraville atop the subregion standings and gave Adairsville their second subregion loss. Even if the Phoenix lost their last subregion game on Friday at Calhoun, they would still earn the top spot based on winning the tiebreaker over the Tigers due to Sonoraville’s 5-0 record in region crossover games. Additionally, Sonoraville will host the region tournament based on their head-to-head win over 6-AAA North top seed Ringgold, and the Phoenix earn a bye straight into the semifinals, which means they clinch their second straight state tournament berth and third all-time.
Mashburn said his team’s attitude and demeanor in a game with so much on the line didn’t surprise him, and the added opportunity to avenge their only subregion loss was even more incentive for his players.
“I kind of laugh about our guys…I’m the one that gets worked up and nervous about games like this,” said Mashburn. “They are a loose, fun group. They don’t let anything weigh on them. They just go out and play basketball like they know they can. Plus, Adairsville got us down there, and our kids were really looking forward to getting them back here at our place.
“As a coach and player, nights like tonight are why you do what you do. The atmosphere was incredible and deserving of that for such a big game. You look forward to the opportunity of playing in a game like this. I’m extremely happy for our guys to come out and play the way they did. But just like I’ve said before this year, we will enjoy this one, but then it’s on to the next one for us.”
After building the 40-12 lead midway through the second quarter, Adairsville (13-11, 6-2 subregion) made a little run to get somewhat back in the game at 40-26, but Sonoraville quickly reeled off five straight points to go to the half up 45-26.
The Phoenix went back up by more than 20 at 49-26 early in the third quarter, and while Adairsville never fully went away, the closest they got in the second half was within 15.
Walraven led the scoring with a game-high 26, including 19 in the first half to help the Phoenix build their sizeable lead and set the tone for the game. Chris Rush was also in double figures with 14 thanks to some impressive play in the paint and on the boards, and fellow forward Lucas Brooks added nine with some easy buckets to go with his big rebounding night. Trent Daniel scored nine as well, and Seth Harkins added seven.
As good an offensive night as it was for Sonoraville, however, they were just as impressive on the defensive end, limiting Adairsville’s top two scorers, Cody Henderson and Hunter Hice, to just 17 points total, all coming in the second half.
“That was extremely important,” said Mashburn of his team’s defensive focus on Henderson and Hice. “Trent gets the toughest defensive assignment every night, and Wil asked to guard No. 24 (Hice). Those two guys, both seniors, stepped up to accept the challenge. As much as they did to help us win it on the offensive end, they did just as much on the defensive end. And other guys stepped up to help on those two when they drove it. Our defense as a whole tonight did the job we needed it to.”
Mason Boswell led Adairsville with 16 points, and Henderson added 14. Savaun Henderson contributed eight points.
The Phoenix honored their five seniors prior to the game also, which included Walraven, Daniel, Brooks, Patrick Moore and Luke Stewart. The quintet started the game on the floor and all played a part in the fast start, including Moore setting up several buckets with assists and Stewart knocking down a big 3 to start Sonoraville’s first 15-0 run.
“It was a great night for all five of them,” said Mashburn of his seniors. “Lucas was fantastic rebounding and scoring around the rim, Wil and Trent had a big night scoring and handling the ball, Patrick played some big minutes and Luke hit a 3 in that first quarter. I’m really proud of all of them. They are great kids and great basketball players. I’m really happy for them to be able to accomplish what we did as a team on a special night like Senior Night.”
The Phoenix close out the regular season on Friday night at rival Calhoun at 8:30 p.m. They will get a little rest with the bye into the semifinals of the region tournament as they won’t play until next Friday.
In the Sonoraville-Adairsville girls game earlier on Tuesday night:
Sonoraville girls 57, Adairsville 28
The Lady Phoenix had a dominant defensive effort and got contributions offensively from several different players in a convincing home win on Tuesday.
Sonoraville (17-7, 6-1 subregion) held the Lady Tigers to five or fewer points in three of the four quarters as they used their aggressive full-court press defense to control the game and play it at the pace which they wanted.
“Our defense just kept coming at them,” said Sonoraville coach Stephanie Caudell. “We pressed most of the game because we wanted to try to speed them up. We wanted to keep them out of the half-court game, and we were able to do that.”
The Lady Phoenix built a 25-19 lead at the half before pushing it to 42-23 advantage at the end of the third quarter thanks to a 17-4 period. They put the finishing touches on the victory with a 15-5 advantage in the fourth quarter.
Grace Darnell led the scoring for Sonoraville with 14 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Maliyah Parks added 12 points, Alexa Geary scored nine and Abby Chambers contributed seven.
Adairsville (3-20, 1-7 subregion) only had three players score in the contest with Nakiyah Washington leading the way with 14. Josie Summerville added 10.
Sonoraville also honored their three seniors after the game on Tuesday night. They trio included Harleigh Chastain, Kolbey Smith and Sandi McMullin. Chastain scored six points on a pair of 3s, and Smith also saw playing time. McMullin is out for the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury during a game a couple weeks ago.
Sonoraville is on the road at rival Calhoun to close out the regular season on Friday at 7 p.m. They still have a chance to be the top seed from 6-AAA South depending on how the final week of the regular season plays out.