Both teams’ region tournament seeding was already locked in before Friday’s Sonoraville boys at Calhoun game so technically not a whole lot was on the line. Apparently the two rivals didn’t get the memo.
What ensued was a back-and-forth battle as each team answered the other’s big plays with their own throughout the contest and a thrilling final few minutes that the Phoenix narrowly got the better of in a 76-73 victory over the rival Jackets.
Sonoraville (22-3, 7-1 subregion) led by as many as eight in the fourth quarter and by seven at 74-67 with less than 30 seconds left, but Calhoun refused to go away quietly. The Jackets (9-13, 4-4 subregion) got two clutch 3-pointers from Porter Law, one with 14.2 seconds to play and the other with 6.6 seconds to cut the deficit to 75-73. But Sonoraville’s Lucas Brooks hit a free throw with 5.5 seconds left, and the Phoenix then picked off a Calhoun inbound pass to seal their road victory.
Sonoraville coach Brent Mashburn said that before Friday’s game, he was interested to see how his team would perform after expending so much emotional, mental and physical energy on Tuesday in their subregion-clinching victory over Adairsville. But he wasn’t surprised how his guys answered the bell with rival Calhoun standing in front of them.
“Coming off a game like we had Tuesday with so much on the line, I was a little worried about focus and execution tonight, but it definitely benefitted us that we were playing Calhoun, which always means so much to the two teams,” said Mashburn. “The kids were ready to play, and we needed every play we could make. Our guys played well, Calhoun played well. Every time they made a play, we answered. We were able to get a little cushion at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and we never gave it up.
“An atmosphere like this is a region-title atmosphere. The electricity and intensity tonight was incredible, and our kids handled that well. Calhoun forced us to make plays right until the end, and our guys were able to. Putting yourself in those situations this time of year is good for your team, and we were able to put a stamp on the regular season to go to 22-3. Losing three games, and being in two of those losses until the final second shows what kind of special season we had. To close it out here at Calhoun was fun, and we’re looking forward to what is ahead of us next week (at the region tournament).”
Sonoraville held a slim 23-20 lead after one quarter thanks in large part to 10 points from Wil Walraven, but Calhoun’s Chase Goble scored 11 of his team’s points in the period to keep them within striking distance.
The second quarter featured more blow-for-blow runs by each team with the Phoenix getting the last one, a 5-0 spurt on two straight baskets by Brooks, to head into the locker room with a 39-34 advantage.
Sonoraville built a 44-38 lead early in the third quarter, but once again Calhoun grabbed the momentum back and pulled within one at 44-43 before the Phoenix finished the period on a 15-9 run to take a 59-52 lead into the fourth.
Calhoun continued their never-say-die ways in the fourth, battling back from seven and eight-point deficits with big shots to set up the exciting final minute in which Sonoraville made 6-of-8 free throws.
“I would characterize this one as a great high school basketball game,” said Calhoun coach Vince Layson despite his team coming up a little short. “It was back and forth, and both teams felt like if they got the last possession they were going to win. We just didn’t quite get the momentum to start the third quarter like we wanted to, and that ended up costing us. Both teams hit some big shots, and I think it’s a great learning tool for us. To get that big-game experience, hopefully it will pay off down the road.
“We still feel like if we can get past the first couple games next week, we still have a shot at winning the region title. Our guys are showing that we are a totally different team than we were at the start of the season. We’re looking forward to good things next week.”
Walraven scored a game-high 32 points for Sonoraville, including four 3-pointers and 10 points in the fourth. Brooks added 22, including three 3-pointers and six points in the fourth.
“That’s two seniors right there, making plays on both ends of the court,” said Mashburn. “They battled and competed and were a big part of us being able to keep a little distance in the fourth. They made some big free throws, and any time Calhoun made a run throughout the game, Wil came up with a basket. I’m so into the game a lot of times that I don’t really get to step back and just have fun watching Wil play. But watching him tonight was fun.”
Trent Daniel added seven for Sonoraville, and Seth Harkins scored six before leaving the game in the second half with an ankle injury. Mashburn said after the game that he didn’t think it was anything serious.
Davis Allen led the scoring for Calhoun with 16 points, including 12 in the second half. Law added 15 with 10 coming in the fourth quarter. Goble scored 13, and Tononcito Martha and Xaxton Goodson contributed seven apiece.
Law and Goble were two of the three Calhoun seniors honored prior to the game as part of Senior Night festivities. Conner McDonald was the third senior recognized. Layson said he is thankful for the time he has gotten to coach the trio and definitely wanted a better result on their Senior Night.
“Porter, Chase and Conner are all three great kids, and you can tell that their parents have done a great job raising them,” said Layson. “I’ve enjoyed having them the past few years. They have all worked their way up into being big parts of our program, and they are very good basketball players. It hurts not to win on their Senior Night, but I’m extremely proud of all three of them.”
Calhoun is set to open the Region 6-AAA Tournament at Sonoraville on Tuesday against Coahulla Creek in the first round at 5:30 p.m.
Sonoraville received a bye straight into the semifinals and will play on Friday at 5:30 p.m.