ROME — Through their first three games of the season, Sonoraville has shown the ability to score at will against their opponents. But when they are able to string consecutive stops together on the defensive end is when they can put together a big run and dominate a game.
The Phoenix were just as impressive offensively as they’ve been in their first few games, but also locked Armuchee down on the defensive end on Tuesday in the second quarter to put together an 18-0 run for the definitive stretch in an 89-62 non-region road victory.
Sonoraville (3-0) led 24-16 after the first quarter and then 28-22 early in the second before completely snatching the momentum with several big buckets and free throws to watch their lead swell to 46-22. The Indians (0-4) were never really able to get back in the game after that.
“We’ve scored it well in all three games, but we got some stops tonight,” said Sonoraville coach Brent Mashburn. “We put together some stops in the second quarter and really made it tough on them to get good looks. We were able to push the lead out there. And I was proud of how our guys never relaxed after that. I told them in the second half that we needed to play the last few minutes the same as we did in the first half. It doesn’t matter if we’re up 20 or down 20, the way we play shouldn’t change. Plus, we were able to play a bunch of kids tonight, and early in the season, seeing how guys react in games is very valuable for us.”
Sonoraville went on to lead 49-34 at the half but kept the pace at a high level in the third to outscore Armuchee 25-10 and put the game that much more out of reach. They led 74-44 after three quarters, forcing the fourth quarter to be shortened to six minutes due to mercy rule.
Wil Walraven was once again impressive to lead the Phoenix in scoring with 29 points. He scored 21 in the first half as he was successful breaking Armuchee’s press and getting to the basket while also hitting a pair of 3s and knocking down five free throws. The senior has now scored 43, 28 and 29 in Sonoraville’s first three games.
“Wil is just a special player,” said Mashburn. “I think he is faster on the court with the ball than without. And when you add to that he’s a good rebounder, it’s hard when he gets a defensive rebound for the other team from getting up the court and all the way to the basket.”
Walraven’s 29 led 10 different Sonoraville players in the scoring column as Mashburn was able to use his entire bench to play big minutes with the score out of hand in the second half. Landon Jones added 15 points, and Lucas Brook scored 14 as the other two Phoenix in double figures. Seth Harkins and Garrett Overboe each contributed nine.
Eli Brock was Armuchee’s leading scorer with 19, including five 3s. He strung together three 3s toward the end of the second quarter to give the Indians a little more of a fighting chance as they went into the half down 15 after trailing by as many as 24 at one point in the period. Tamalachi Lovelace was also in double figures with 12, and Gavin Rood added seven.
The victory kept Sonoraville unbeaten early in the season after wins last week over Model and Cherokee (Ala.). Mashburn said the 3-0 start is what his team was aiming for, but there are still some areas in which he believes they haven’t yet reached their full potential.
“We’re definitely scoring the ball, and the game gets easier when you put it in the basket,” said Mashburn. “We’ve got to keep getting better defensively to match what we’re doing on the offensive end. We’re 3-0, and we’ve played well, but I still would like to see us get a little tougher. I definitely think we can rebound and guard better.”
The Phoenix are on the road at North Murray for a Region 6-AAA crossover matchup on Friday at 8:30 p.m.