There are highs and lows during a basketball game, but in one of such importance as when a team squares off against their crosstown rival, the magnitude of each one of those swings in momentum feels monumental.
Sonoraville experienced a roller-coaster type of game just like that on Thursday as they hosted rival Calhoun, and the Phoenix were able to dig out of the low point of the contest and end on an extremely high note for a huge victory. Sonoraville battled back from a nine-point deficit midway through the third quarter to take the lead and really never look back on their way to an 84-63 subregion win on their home court.
The Phoenix (16-3, 3-1 6-AAA South) outscored Calhoun 57-31 in total over the final two quarters to run away for the win thanks to some gritty defensive stops paired with several scorers getting hot to break out of the scoring slump the team faced from the second quarter into the third. Calhoun (4-12, 0-3) battled back from a slow start of their own early in the game to lead 32-27 at the half and then built on their lead to go up 41-32 at one point in the third before Sonoraville started to take control of the game.
Sonoraville coach Brent Mashburn his team stayed the course after a tough second quarter in which they were outscored 22-10 to bounce back and show some major resiliency in the second half.
“I thought in the first half we got some good looks, we just didn’t make very many,” said Mashburn. “But we stayed focused and didn’t get down, and we were able to come out in the second half and knock down some shots. Once you see the ball go through the net, it’s pretty contagious, and you get a little confidence. Even with making shots, the key for us was getting stops. When you combine the way we scored it in the second half with getting a few stops in a row, that’s when you can really grab the momentum in a game.”
Sonoraville came out of the gates rolling as they built an 11-0 lead before the Jackets were able to get a few buckets down the stretch in the first quarter to cut Sonoraville’s lead to 17-10 headed to the second. Calhoun then kept the momentum, putting together an 11-0 run to start the second and flip the scoreboard around before battling back and forth for the rest of the period and eventually taking the 32-27 lead into the locker room.
The Phoenix started the third quarter strong, getting the deficit down to two, but once again Calhoun responded to push the lead back out to nine. That’s when a trio of Sonoraville players stepped up and got the offense going. Seth Harkins had a huge second half, making five of his six 3-pointers in the game, Wes McCormick provided a huge lift off the bench with 13 second-half points and leading scorer Wil Walraven did what he’s gotten used to doing, added 14 of his team-high 24 in the final two quarters.
Those contributions along with a few others’ clutch plays allowed Sonoraville to completely shift the game in their favor.
Sonoraville ended up outscoring Calhoun 26-17 in the third quarter to take a 53-49 lead to the fourth. They put the finishing touches on the impressive turnaround with a 31-14 advantage in the final period.
Harkins finished with 20 points to go along with Walraven’s 24 and McCormick’s 13. Chris Rush added 12, and Trent Daniel scored eight.
“Wil just played his game and made big shots like he always does,” said Mashburn. “And we got a great night from those two guys (Harkins and McCormick). You’ve got to have multiple guys play at a high level and not be afraid of the moment in a game like this. I knew their mentality was to keep attacking and keep shooting to put pressure on the defense. When we have as many guys making plays and making shots as we did tonight, we can get on a pretty good roll.”
Davis Allen and Porter Law shared the scoring lead for Calhoun with 17 apiece. Law scored 15 of his points in the first half, including a trio of 3s, to help lead the Jackets back from their early deficit. Tononcito Martha contributed 12 points, and Chase Goble added 11, all of his coming in the second half.
Mashburn said the win is big for his team for multiple reasons, including keeping them toward the top of the subregion standings after a tough loss to Adairsville last Friday.
“It’s big,” said Mashburn. “It’s a rivalry game…we can admit that it’s always a big one anytime we play Calhoun. It was a great atmosphere. Our fans are great. Their fans are great. This is what you expect when we get together. This is the kind of game you want to play in and want to coach in. Our kids rose to the challenge tonight.”
It’s another subregion win. There is a lot of basketball left, and our goal is to continue to play well ever single night. This is a good bounce back from the Adairsville loss and a stepping stone toward trying to play our best basketball in the next few weeks as we head toward the region tournament.”
The Phoenix are on the road on Tuesday to visit Haralson County while Calhoun is at home hosting Adairsville. Both games start at 7:30 p.m.