Region 7-AA has been unpredictable all season, and the region tournament finals game was no different.
The 7-AA championship game came down to the final minutes, as the No. 1-seeded Calhoun Yellow Jackets used a dramatic fourth quarter comeback to push to a 62-54 win over Model.
The Yellow Jackets can now call themselves region champs, and will host the No. 4 seed in 6-A, Hapeville Charter, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.
Model, as the No. 2 seed in 7-AA, will host the 6-AA No. 3-seed, Westminster on Wednesday.
The game was back-and-forth for the first two quarters as Calhoun left the half with just a slight 25-23 edge over the Blue Devils.
Model then built some late-third quarter momentum with an 8-4 mini run to outscore the Jackets 21-15 in the third and to enter the fourth quarter with a 44-40 lead.
The Blue Devils continued their momentum to start the fourth quarter by building a nine-point lead on the Yellow Jackets, and the game seemed to be permanently swayed in their favor.
That is, until a 12-2 Calhoun scoring run gave the Jackets a one-point edge with less than two minutes to play.
From that point, the Blue Devils put Calhoun behind the foul line a few too many times, which the Jackets capitalized on to build a nine-point lead and roll to the top spot in Region 7-AA.
“We usually come out and jump on teams in the second half. They battled through it, and came out in the fourth quarter and played our style of basketball and it paid off,” said Calhoun coach Vince Layson, whose team has now beaten Model three times this season.
Behind that fourth quarter effort was Calhoun’s Austin Byrd who scored all nine of his points in the final period.
Greyson Arnold led the Jackets with 22 points and Kaelan Riley and Collin Parker chipped in 10 apiece.
Layson, who labeled his Jackets a “second-half team” was surprised by Calhoun’s third-quarter performance that allowed Model to build a late lead.
“It was a rough third quarter for us,” he said. “We came out flat. It’s usually been our quarter of the season.”
Model coach Jacob Travis, on the other hand, was impressed with his team’s third-quarter, and drew it as a positive coming out of the loss.
“Hats off to Calhoun,” he said. “I thought they did a great job, and they came back and took it from us.
“I thought our kids did a great job getting the lead, but we just didn’t handle the ball well down the stretch.”
Davy Fisher carried the team on his back with 24 points, the only double-digit score from the Blue Devils.
According to Travis, rather than dwelling on the close loss, his team’s focus will be on their overall success in the tourney.
“We wake up tomorrow morning with a new plan, and we’re not going to dwell on tonight. It’s been a great week for us, and I think that’s our message – it’s been a great week. We’ll recover very quickly, because that’s what it’s all about.”