It was an evening of resounding success for both Sonoraville basketball squads on Tuesday as they snatched momentum-building wins against Coahulla Creek.
The Phoenix (6-0) were elevated by precise shooting and passing, and ironed out some early defensive miscues to coast past the Colts 66-51.
Sonoraville’s offensive load was shouldered by sharpshooting guard Wil Walraven, who knocked down four 3-pointers and compiled 25 points. The Phoenix were also bolstered by standout performances by forward Lucas Brooks, who netted 13 points, and center Chris Rush, who contributed 11 points while also serving as rim protector on defense.
“Wil is a tremendous player, and in addition to the scoring he handles the ball and rebounds extremely well,” Phoenix head coach Brent Mashburn said. “He has been a tough matchup for other teams so far this season, and I think you were able to see tonight how he makes everyone around him better.”
The team established a steady offensive pace in the early portion of the game, cobbling together a 10-2 scoring run to open the contest and clinging to a 13-9 advantage as the first quarter drew to a close.
However, the Phoenix struggled at times to defend Coahulla Creek (2-4) guard Maddox Adams, who poured in 31 points on the evening and almost single-handedly kept the lead within arm’s reach for the Colts throughout the first half.
Due primarily to the efforts of Adams, the score was knotted up 32-32 in the final seconds before the break. That is until Walraven drained a deep buzzer-beating 3-pointer, giving the Phoenix a boost and a three-point lead heading into the locker room.
“We know that we have a variety of guys that can score the ball, but we have to play more consistently on the defensive end,” Mashburn said. “We had trouble guarding Adams and missed some very makeable shots in that first half, and that allowed them to stay in the game.”
The two teams traded buckets in the third quarter, but Sonoraville was able to slightly stretch its lead out to seven points headed into the final eight minutes. Soon after that, the Phoenix utilized its offensive efficiency and clamped down defensively on Adams long enough to put together a scorching 13-2 run that effectively closed the door on the Colts and clinched the win.
“I think the difference in the game was our ability to guard better in the second half,” Mashburn said. “When our defense improved, we were able to get some easy transition baskets and pull away. That is the key for us going forward.”
The Lady Phoenix (4-2) also benefited from an explosive offensive output from up and down its’ starting lineup, easily dispatching Coahulla Creek 63-35.
The most notable of those offensive contributions was generated by freshman forward Alexa Geary, who tallied 23 points by effectively slashing to the rim to earn free throw opportunities and swishing jump shots at a rapid pace. The team’s stat sheet was additionally stuffed by guard Grace Darnell, who chipped in 15 points, and forward Maliyah Parks, who pitched in 11 points.
Sonoraville head coach Stephanie Caudell was encouraged by Geary’s breakout performance, and hopes it is a sign of things to come as the season rolls along.
“Alexa was aggressive from the beginning of the game,” Caudell said.
“She had success early, and I believe that gave her the confidence to have a big night. We need her to continue to carry that confidence into future games.”
The contest was mostly competitive through the first two quarters. The Lady Phoenix managed to rack up 25 points by the halftime break, but perhaps more impressive was the team’s physical defense, which held the Lady Colts (3-4) to just 14 points across those two periods.
It was the third quarter that featured an offensive showcase for Sonoraville, including a 16-6 run that helped push its total to 45 points.
“It took us a few minutes to get going, but overall offensively, I felt like we played aggressively and consistently for all four quarters” Caudell said. “I was especially pleased with how we came out after halftime and had one of our best offensive quarters of the year.”
The Lady Phoenix kept the pressure on in the final quarter with its defensive intensity to hold Coahulla Creek under 40 points, while tacking on another 18 points on the opposite end to reach the team’s second-highest scoring output of the season.
“I think the big key was our ability to get out and guard their shooters,” Caudell said. “They have some girls who can really light it up if they are open. We kept them in single digits for all except for one quarter, so our defensive intensity and communication was good all game. And again, I feel like how you come out after halftime is key in almost every game, so that made a big difference, too.”
Sonoraville is back at home on Friday to host Ringgold in another big Region 6-AAA crossover matchup with the girls starting at 6 p.m. and boys after. Both teams open play in the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Festival on Monday. The Lady Phoenix take on Armuchee at 6 p.m. at Georgia Highlands, and the Sonoraville boys follow at 7:30 p.m. also at Georgia Highlands against Woodland.