Calhoun may have sewn up the No. 1 seed for the Region 7-AA Tournament over the weekend, but that didn’t stop the Jackets from playing with a sense of urgency on Tuesday night at home against Model.
The Jackets, whose seeding was decided when Coosa lost to Dade County on Saturday, came out and played as if everything was still on the line, a trait they’ve been known for this season, and even after Model rallied to make it interesting in the fourth quarter, Calhoun made the plays at the end for a 63-56 victory.
Calhoun (15-4, 11-2) led by 20 points with just over five minutes left in the game, but the Devils wouldn’t quit as they chipped away to cut the deficit to four at 55-51 with two minutes left in the fourth.
Collin Parker came through with the momentum stopper with a 3-pointer to push the lead back to seven as the Jackets held on from there. Parker finished with 15 points, all coming on five 3s.
“Collin being that outside threat for us has been crucial throughout the whole year,” said Calhoun coach Vince Layson. “He’s bailed us out in a lot of key situations. Any time a team starts making a run on you, it’s good to have him be able to step in and make those big shots to quiet them down a little bit.”
Parker led four Jackets in double figures. Kaelen Riley and Jireh Wilson each had 13, and Greyson Arnold added 11.
Layson said that kind of balance is something very valuable for his team’s success.
“That’s been the story of our season,” said Layson. “Being able to play a lot of guys with all having the ability to score, it makes it hard for other teams to focus in on one guy.”
The fourth-quarter run for Model (13-10, 7-6) was keyed by Robert Pearson, who scored 14 of his 15 points in the 18-2 stretch for the Devils.
“It’s good to see our guys fight like that, and it shows the character of our guys to not get down,” said Model coach Jacob Travis. “We’ve done that several times this season, but we’ve got to get more of a sense of urgency at the beginning of games. Still, we kind of found our groove there, and it’s a credit to our kids for not giving up.”
Pearson was one of three Devils in double figures, with VJ Saxton leading the way with a game-high 20, 14 of those coming in the first half before foul trouble limited his minutes in the third and fourth quarters, Davy Fisher added 12.
Layson said he was happy the way his team came out and played hard despite already having the No. 1 seed locked down.
“We talked about that especially in practice yesterday, to come out and use these (last two) games to better ourselves, and to more or less, not pick up any bad habits,” said Layson. “We tried our best to do that tonight and ended up fighting through it.”
For Model, who needed to win their final two regular-season games and hope for a lot of help to earn the No. 2 seed for the region tourney, assuring them of a state tourney berth as well as a double-bye next week at Georgia Highlands, Travis said now it’s about trying to get some momentum back as they head into the postseason.
“We’re looking for another gear here in these last two games,” said Travis. “We want to show up and get better. We want to get ready to play and have that mindset of fighting like we will be next week (in the region tournament).”
The Jackets visit Armuchee on Friday in their regular-season finale; Model hosts Murray County for Senior Night.
Calhoun boys 63, Model 56
Hall 3, Gore 1, O’Neal 2, Pearson 15, Oliver 3, Saxton 20, Fisher 12.
Parker 15, Riley 13, Wilson 13, Lamb 3, Arnold 11, Fightmaster 6.
Model 7 15 11 23 — 56
Calhoun 15 14 16 18 — 63
3-Pointers — Model 6 (Pearson 3, Hall 1, Oliver 1, Saxton 1); Calhoun 7 (Parker 5, Wilson 1, Arnold 1). Free throws — Model 12-23; Calhoun 8-11. Records —Model 13-10, 7-6; Calhoun 15-4, 11-2.