ROME — Strong effort on the defensive end often leads to easy shots and confidence on the offensive end, and Sonoraville proved that on Friday.
The Phoenix blew open a close game at the half by outscoring Model 18-0 in the third quarter to take total control in a 63-51 victory in the third-place game of the Rome News-Tribune Christmas Tournament at Berry College.
Sonoraville (10-1) was suffocating on the defensive end in the period, which included pressure on the ball, forcing turnovers and locking down the defensive glass. That allowed them to get easy transition baskets, and even when they didn’t, they ran their half-court sets with high efficiency to get good looks.
“I didn’t even realize we had shut them out in the third until someone on the bench said something to me,” said Sonoraville coach Brent Mashburn. “But any time you play that well defensively, that leads to easy offense. For us to come out of the half in a three-point game and take control and really dominate that third quarter was really good to see.”
The Phoenix jumped out to a 19-11 lead after one quarter, but Model (3-5) fought back in the second to cut the deficit to three at 29-26 going into the half, including scoring the final five points of the period. But the third quarter was all Sonoraville as they started the period with a three-pointer from Seth Harkins, ended it with a bucket from Lucas Brooks and had 13 points from Chris Rush and Wil Walraven in between.
Model’s Jackson Lively tried his best to get his team back in the game in the fourth quarter, scoring the Devils’ first 13 points of the period, but they never got closer than 12 points.
The win was a nice bounce-back effort for the Phoenix after a tough loss in the semifinals to Rome in which they didn’t ever get a lot of rhythm going offensively as their unbeaten run early in the season came to an end. Mashburn said he was curious how his team would come back the next day after the loss, and he was proud of the response on Friday.
“We got off to a really good start this year, and after that first loss last night, I really wanted to see how we would respond,” said Mashburn. “Once I got around the guys today and saw their attitude, I felt good about how we would play. We came out and our energy was really good throughout the game. We played well offensively, and I think defensively, we made it tough on them.”
Walraven scored 20 to lead Sonoraville and was named to the All-Tournament Team later on Friday. The senior scored 76 points in Sonoraville’s four games in the tournament.
Rush added 13 for the Phoenix with nine of those coming in the third quarter, and Brooks was the third Sonoraville scorer in double figures with 10. Trent Daniel also had seven, and Harkins added six on a pair of 3s. Mashburn said when his team is that balanced offensively, it makes it very tough on their opponents’ defense.
“That’s when we’re at our best when we spread it around,” said Mashburn. “Wil was good again tonight, and Chris was really good in stretches and I think dominated the game on both ends in the second half. We had some other guys step up too. I think when you have different guys that can all be the best offensive player on the court for stretches, it’s a huge advantage. And when you see the ball go through the basket, it makes it easier for you to play hard on defense.”
Lively scored a game-high 24 points, but was the only Model player in double figures in the loss.
Mashburn said that while you never go into a tournament wanting to play in the third-place game, he believes the effort on Friday and the competition in the tournament itself will be big for his team as they continue the season.
“That’s what I told the guys is this tournament is a big deal, and for our first trip here, I think we played well,” said Mashburn. “It’s great competition and great atmospheres. To go four games in five days and finish 3-1, I definitely think it’s going to benefit us moving forward. Overall, it was a great experience. The kids, our fans and I really enjoyed it.”
Sonoraville will be back on their home court on Thursday when they play in the Phoenix Holiday Classic at 7:30 p.m. against Section (Ala.). They will play again on Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Ridgeland.
In other boys’ action at the Rome News-Tribune Christmas Tournament:
Rome boys 55, Sonoraville 34
ROME – Despite struggling for much of the night on offense, Sonoraville was still within three late in the third quarter of their semifinal showdown at the Rome News-Tribune Christmas Tournament on Thursday at Berry, but Rome outscored them 23-5 from that point on to close out the contest and send the Phoenix into the third-place game on Friday.
Sonoraville (9-1) couldn’t seem to get any momentum going their way in the fourth quarter as they were outscored 16-3 in the period to send them to their first loss of the season. Sonoraville coach Brent Mashburn said Rome did a very good job on the defensive end taking his team out of rhythm.
“I think you give them plenty of credit,” said Mashburn. “They were physical, athletic and strong and made things really tough on us on offense. We just struggled from the first quarter on and never got a whole lot going.”
The Phoenix trailed 15-7 after one quarter and 27-19 at the break after each team traded baskets in the second quarter. Sonoraville had their best stretch of the game in the third when they got some big buckets from Trent Daniel to close the gap to 32-29. But Rome responded by finishing the period on a 7-2 run and carried that momentum over into the fourth where they scored the first eight points of the period to take total control at 47-31.
Daniel was one of the few bright spots offensively for Sonoraville as he poured in 18 points. No other Phoenix scorer had more than six (Chris Rush).
Caleb Byrd led the charge for Rome (2-0) with a game-high 22. Adam Anderson added 14.
The loss knocked Sonoraville out of contention for the Gold Ball and into the third-place game on Friday against Model.
Darlington boys 61, Calhoun 54
ROME – Calhoun led by eight after three quarters in a consolation game at the Rome News-Tribune Christmas Tournament at Berry, but Darlington completely turned the game around in the fourth, outscoring the Jackets 23-9 in the final period to earn a comeback win.
The Jackets (1-4) led 31-28 at the half and then added to their advantage in the third by outscoring Darlington 14-9 in the period. Calhoun ran out of steam in the fourth quarter, however, and that coupled with a tough day at the free throw line (8-18) added up to a tough loss.
Davis Allen had a huge day for the Jackets with a game-high 26 points, including a trio of 3s. Chase Goble added nine, and Caleb Boone scored seven. Darlington’s JD Hull scored 17, and Andrew Land contributed 13.
The Jackets will try to get back on track when they open the Chattooga Christmas Tournament on Wednesday at 4 p.m. against Cass.