The top-seeded Indians were outlasted at home by third-seeded Callaway 71-59 cutting short the season for Chattooga.
“It’s tough. It definitely hurts,” Chattooga head coach Jared Groce said. “We’ve got a great bunch of seniors that have given a lot of effort over their four years. They wanted more. We all wanted more than just a Sweet 16 appearance.”
The Indians, led by seniors Malachi Mack, Tre Flowers, Jundraius Adams and Devin Price, finish their season with an 18-11 record and a fourth straight appearance in the state playoffs, however Groce said he and his team had set lofty goals for the season.
“We came into this season with a lot of goals,” Groce said. “We felt like we had a team that could make it to the Final Four or the state championship game. We had some big goals. That’s for sure. It’s just tough. Every team is good at this point, and Callaway was the better team tonight.”
The Indians were quickly caught off guard by the Cavaliers (13-10) when they jumped out to a 10-0 lead to start the game before a bucket from Price got his team on the scoreboard at 10-2 with 4:15 left in the opening quarter.
“We came out and had some good shot opportunities that just didn’t go in, and Callaway came out and they were hot from the start. But that says a lot about our team that we got down 10-0 at home and they decided to dig deep and clawed their way back. It says a lot about the character of our team that we were able to fight back from that early deficit.”
Chattooga entered the second half down 32-29 and started the third strong with Price hitting back-to-back buckets to cut Callaway’s lead to 34-33. Near the end of the third period is where Callaway was able to start pulling ahead for good as the Cavaliers went on a 6-0 run to expand their lead to 44-35 and eventually took a 48-39 lead into the final quarter.
The Cavaliers put more distance between them in the Indians at the start of the fourth period going on a 6-0 run to make the score 54-41. The Indians were able to get within eight points on a basket from Clayton Johnson for 56-48 score, but that was as close as Callaway allowed before going on a 10-3 run near the end of the quarter putting them ahead 71-53.
In the second quarter, the Cavaliers’ quick start quickly faded, and the Indians responded by closing the gap. The Indians tied the game up with 3:39 left in the second quarter when Clayton Johnson stole the ball on a Callaway pass around halfcourt and drove for a layup. Johnson then gave his team its first lead of the game 30 seconds later with another layup to put the Indians up 23-21.
The teams then traded baskets until Callaway’s Ja’Vante Boddie hit a 3-pointer with less than a minute left in the second period. Boddie followed up with another basket to put the Cavaliers up 32-27. A late basket from Price cut Callaway’s lead to 32-29 at halftime.
Adams finished with 13 points including three 3-pointers. Price led the Indians with 16 points, and Jamarious Mosteller scored 11 points.
Callaway was led by Boddie with 23 points, and Demetrius Coleman scored 20 points.