In their first meeting against Calhoun a few weeks ago, the Sonoraville Lady Phoenix used a big fourth-quarter surge to pull away after a competitive game through the first three quarters and earn a big rivalry win. That strategy worked so well they decided to use it again on Friday.
With the game tied 35-35 after three quarters, Sonoraville opened the final period on an 11-0 run and held on from there for a 55-45 victory on the rival Lady Jackets’ home court.
The run at the beginning of the fourth quarter for Sonoraville (17-7, 7-1 subregion) was jumpstarted by a 3-pointer to open the period from Grace Darnell and included two buckets from Alexa Geary and one bucket apiece from Abby Chambers and Maliyah Parks. The Lady Phoenix then sealed the victory by going 9-of-12 down the stretch from the free throw line.
Sonoraville coach Stephanie Caudell said her team has seemed to step up in crucial times often this season, and they once again didn’t shy away from the moment on Friday.
“It’s been that way as far as being confident and not letting the moment bother them,” said Caudell of her team. “They always seem to respond well, especially during the subregion schedule. We felt confident tonight that we were going to be able to do it again. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy against a tough Calhoun team, but our girls fought every minute tonight and we were able to come through with some big plays in the fourth quarter.”
Calhoun (11-11, 4-4 subregion) jumped on top early as they took a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. They then built a 17-12 lead early in the second quarter before Sonoraville finished the first half on a 14-6 run to take the momentum into the locker room at the half with a 26-23 lead.
The Lady Jackets responded with their own run in the third quarter as they turned a 33-27 deficit midway through the period into a 35-35 score with the teams heading to the final quarter.
After Sonoraville went up by 11 a couple times in the fourth quarter, Calhoun continued to battle but never got any closer than seven down the stretch.
Parks led the Lady Phoenix in scoring in the win with 17 points. The sophomore forward did a lot of the work in the first two quarters scoring 13 points in the first half alone.
“(Maliyah) carried us in the first half,” said Caudell.
“When it looked like nobody else could get anything to go, she did a lot of the scoring. But that’s what she’s done all season. She told me she was really nervous going into the game tonight, but she was able to use that energy to have a big night. She’s a great kid, and I’m proud of her.”
Geary added 10, and Darnell contributed eight points. Karley Thomas also scored eight points off the bench, including a couple big 3-pointers in the second quarter.
Erin Davis, Calhoun’s lone senior that was honored following the game as part of Senior Night festivities, did her best to try to will her team to a win, scoring a game-high 19. Railey Greeson and Anna George each added seven.
Sonoraville’s win put them in a tie atop the subregion standings with Haralson County, and the Lady Phoenix won a coin toss on Saturday to get the No. 1 seed from the South for the Region 6-AAA Tournament this week. They will get a bye into the semifinals on Friday, and that also means they clinch a state tournament berth.
“You definitely want to be playing your best going into the region tournament, and I think we are,” said Caudell. “To come through a pretty tough subregion with just one loss makes you feel confident going forward. So we’ll go play next week at the region tournament and see what happens. We’re looking forward to it.”
Calhoun enters the tournament as the No. 3 seed from the South and will play Coahulla Creek in the opening round on Monday at 5:30 p.m.