In what proved to be a thrilling, back-and-forth installment of the crosstown rivalry between the Red Bud and Ashworth varsity boys teams last Monday, the precise and timely shooting of the Phoenix turned out to be enough to overcome the size and physicality of the Warriors in a hard-earned 44-35 victory.
Although the final total was in Red Bud’s favor, Ashworth actually snatched the early momentum by generating fast-break points and second chance opportunities utilizing the team’s length and athleticism. The Warriors punctuated an 11-5 first quarter lead with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that was banked in by Sean Gray as time expired.
However, the Phoenix counteracted Ashworth’s physical style of play by forcing turnovers, getting to the rim and earning free-throw opportunities. Red Bud cobbled together an 8-0 scoring stretch to secure a 21-19 lead headed into halftime.
“I thought we did a great job at pushing the ball, and turning their turnovers into easy scoring chances,” Red Bud head coach Mark Whitt said. “I think we showed great shot selection, and we were able to earn some easy putbacks as the game went on.”
Red Bud managed to stretch out that lead by continuing to relentlessly drive the lane in the second half, which left its shooters open on the perimeter. The Phoenix capitalized by knocking down a trio of 3-pointers in the third quarter, including the game’s second buzzer-beating 3 from the hands of Christian Roberts to expand the advantage to 33-27 going into the final minutes.
Despite trailing the majority of the second half, the Warriors stuck to the gameplan and kept feeding post players Armando Sanchez and Scott James. Ashworth chipped away at Red Bud’s lead as the clock was winding down late, but Red Bud was able to convert nearly all of its free throw opportunities late to cling onto the win.
It was total team effort for the Phoenix. Brant Bryant netted 14 points, and Dustin Fortenberry contributed 10.
“We played sporadic at times, but we made the plays down the stretch that we needed to,” Whitt said. “I was proud of the way we executed because we have had trouble in the past with their height and ability to rebound the ball.”
Even though the final result wasn’t what the Warriors were hoping for, the team still showed a lot of promise going forward. Ashworth was backed by a superb performance from Sanchez, who racked up 18 points and snagged a plethora of important rebounds.
“Their big guys are really talented, and we knew the key was limiting them,” Whitt said. “I was happy with our defensive intensity, and I think we did a pretty good job defending those guys with the game on the line.”
The Red Bud boy’s junior varsity also enjoyed success against Ashworth, picking up a dominant 37-8 win. Jaxon Pate led all scorers with 11 points, while Ridge Redd chipped in six.
-Additionally, the JV Phoenix defeated Calhoun 50-43 on Thursday night behind Bryant’s huge 20-point effort. Pate added 14 points, and Redd tossed in 10.
-The varsity and junior varsity Lady Phoenix traveled to Ashworth and left with two victories last Monday. Red Bud’s varsity squad snagged a 54-32 win that was bolstered by Madison Abernathy’s 14 points and Grace Crocker’s nine.
The Red Bud junior varsity topped the Lady Warriors 33-13. They were led in scoring by Diana Smith, who registered 13 points, and KK Lyles, who pitched in seven.
-Both Lady Phoenix teams visited Calhoun on Thursday, both neither were able to pick up victories despite gritty efforts. The varsity fell to the Lady Jackets 28-17, with Crocker leading the offensive attack with eight points and Abernathy pitching in six points. The junior varsity came up short 28-20, with Smith notching seven points and Lyles contributing six points.
-The Red Bud Firebirds maintained its streak of dominance and moved to 15-0 on Thursday by defeating Ashworth 83-27, Armuchee 88-24 and Pepperell 93-9. Everyone on the team picked up at least one individual victory, including Gavin Harper, Luke White, Jacob White, Ivan Thurman and Josh Young who stepped up from junior varsity to snatch varsity wins.
-The Warrior wrestling squad hosted that quad match on Friday, and although the team fell to the Phoenix, it did beat New Hope 81-40 and had a competitive match against Rockmart.
The varsity was also in action on Saturday at the Colonel Slam at Cass High School. Tyson Temple placed 2nd and Paul Guerrero captured 3rd, with seven other wrestlers one match away from placing in the top-four.
-The Calhoun Middle School swim team played host to Heritage, Pickens and Ringgold last week.
The girls edged out the competition by posting a score of 161 points, with Heritage being the next closest at 94. Among first place finishers for the girls was McKinnon in the 500 free and 100 backstroke, Tibbs in the 100 yard individual medley and 100 butterfly, Reid in the 200 yard free and 100 free and Martin in the 1 meter dive and 200 yard medley relay. All four also earned first place in the 400 yard free relay.
First-place finishers for the boys team were Tolson in the 100 backstroke, Wood in the 100 breast and 200 yard individual medley, Eickman in the 100 yard butterfly, Petty in the 200 yard medley relay, 100 free and 1 meter diving, Reese Hood in the 200 yard free relay and 500 free and G. Hood in the 50 yard free. G. Hood, Webb, Ryan Hood, and Reese Hood additionally won the 200 yard free relay. Tolson, Reese Hood, Eickman and Petty captured victory in the 400 yard free relay.