For the fourth consecutive year, head coach Mike Tobin and his son, Corey Tobin, are taking home the Gold Ball Trophy as winners of the Holiday Festival basketball tournament.
The game couldn’t have been any closer as the minutes dwindled down after a strenuous three quarters of back-and-forth action.
With just under three minutes left in the fourth quarter, Hunter Benham knocked down a quick two, the Cartersville Hurricanes made a solid defensive stop and Tobin, the tournament’s most valuable player, hit a back-breaking three-pointer, giving the Hurricanes a 73-67 lead and the eventual 79-73 win at Berry College.
“It feels good to win,” said Corey Tobin.
“Getting the championship in this atmosphere is great. I felt like maybe 20 percent of the fans wanted us to win and everybody else wanted us to lose. It feels great to win in that kind of atmosphere.”
Tobin opened the first quarter by scoring 10 as Cartersville displayed its athleticism, playing stifling interior defense, forcing turnovers and running in transition.
The Hurricanes would build a 26-17 lead at the end of the frame, and it looked like the game might be over before it got going.
“That was a great test for us,” said Model head coach Jacob Travis.
“This week has been a heck of a week. We’ve played three great teams. Our kids have battled. I was worried tonight if we were going to stay in it, but we didn’t have a problem with that.”
Cartersville tried to put the Blue Devils away to open the second quarter, using a 5-0 run as they watched their lead balloon to 14.
Model had an answer, though, as they stormed back to take a 40-39 lead into the half.
“The style (Cartersville) play(s) got in our passing lanes a little bit. We were worried trying to play east to west and shoot the long ball,” said Travis.
“When we slowed down and looked at the goal and looked for our players. We had to adjust and once we did, we were back in the game.”
While both teams struggled to keep the contest close over the first two quarters, the third frame was as evenly fought a quarter as there was all night.
Both teams traded shots, with Tobin and Model’s Davy Fisher trading big baskets, notching nine points each in the third alone.
“I think it shows you a little about (Fisher’s) ability to score,” said Travis.
“When the defense gets better, he rises and he’s the guy who leads us. He’s matured a lot. He’s a heck of a scorer, so he just needs to do what he does.”
Cartersville would again get on a run, this time closing the quarter with a 6-2 advantage to make the game 59-53.
“That’s where we’re at our best, when we get steals and push it down the floor,” said Cartersville head coach Mike Tobin.
“The guys were playing together as a team. Ryan (Davis), he does such a good job. If they cut him off, he kicks it out to our shooters, Corey or AJ (Mosby).”
When the fourth opened, Model and Cartersville traded blows before Tobin and the Hurricanes hit the knockout shot.
Tobin’s three-pointer put Cartersville up six with 2:31 to play, but it was their defensive change that threw Model off its game.
The Blue Devils had three good looks at the basket from range but each shot rattled out, allowing the Hurricanes to hold on for the win.
The difference, according to Travis in the near two-minute drought, was the difference in shot attempts by the two teams.
“I think it was more or less the look we got, and the look they got,” said Travis.
“(Corey Tobin) got a look in transition, in rhythm, then (Mike Tobin) switches to a zone, which we thought he might do. He made us take a different look than we’re used to.”
For the night, Fisher led all scorers with 32 and Tobin dropped in 27 to lead Cartersville.
After the game, Travis chose to focus on the positive takeaways of the game before Model (6-1) travels to play Our Lady of Mercy Bobcats in a Christmas Tournament Dec. 26 in Fairburn.
“It puts us in a place to mature and grow. Now we need to learn how to win a game when it’s possession and possession. Getting a rebound, hitting a free throw, hitting a shot, finding a better shot,” said Travis.
“I’m really proud. We had a chance to win the game, now we need to learn how to.”
Cartersville (7-1) travels to play the Ringgold Tigers today.