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PREP BASKETBALL: Cartersville, Sonoraville advance to Christmas Tournament semifinals

Whether returning to the tournament field or making its debut, the newest boys’ teams in the Rome News-Tribune/Seven Hills Rotary Christmas Tournament have earned their way into this year’s semifinals.

Cartersville, which won back-to-back Gold Ball Trophies in 2012 and 2013, defeated last year’s champion Calhoun 65-53 at Georgia Highlands College on Tuesday night to advance to the semis after not being in the tournament for three years.

Meanwhile, Sonoraville made a second-half turnaround against Darlington to win 60-43 and move them into tonight’s semifinals in the Phoenix’s first year in the tournament.

Both the boys’ and girls’ semifinals will be played tonight.

Here is a closer look at Wednesday’s games:

Sonoraville boys 60, Darlington 43

Early momentum from Darlington didn’t last in the Tigers’ first game of the tournament as Sonoraville soared back in the final two periods Wednesday to win 60-43.

Wil Walraven led the comeback for the Phoenix as the senior accounted for a game-high 28 points, which included four 3-pointers and going 6-of-7 from the free throw line.

“It was a good total team effort I thought. Our kids played well,” Sonoraville coach Brent Mashburn said.

“Wil had a great night. Offensively, he’s a good player. I thought that as a group we played well on the defensive end of the floor, and that was the difference in my mind.”

The first half of the game skewed in Darlington’s favor as the Tigers led until the very end of the opening 16 minutes. Sonoraville changed the momentum as they blocked a Darlington shot and Landon Jones completed the turnover by scoring on the other end to tie the game at 23-all going into halftime.

Sonoraville (9-0) took the newfound energy and played a strong second half. Walraven had 15 of his points in the final two periods, and Jones accounted for six of his 13 total points.

Darlington (3-3) was led by Sam Tackeberry (who scored in every quarter) and JD Hull, both with 12 points.

Sonoraville marches on to the semis to play Rome tonight at 7 p.m. at Berry while Darlington faces Calhoun in a consolation game at 4 p.m.

Cartersville 65 boys, Calhoun 53

Jaylen Pugh stepped up when Cartersville needed him Wednesday and the senior helped lead the Purple Hurricanes to a 65-53 victory over Calhoun and advance to the tournament semifinals.

The Yellow Jackets (1-3) kept the game competitive throughout most of the game, which came to a tipping point in the third quarter when Pugh hit one of his four 3-pointers of the day to put Cartersville up by 10

Calhoun then cut the lead to three early in the fourth as Davis Allen knocked down a huge 3. However, the Purple Hurricanes outscored the Jackets 12-3 over the final few minutes to seal the win.

Pugh had a game-high 23 points to lead Cartersville (4-0), which got 11 points each from Perignon Dyer and Grant Harris. Davis Allen and Caleb Boone led Calhoun (1-3) with 13 and 12 points respectively.

Cartersville will play Model in the tournament semifinals today at 5:30 p.m. at Georgia Highlands. Calhoun will seek to get back in the win column against Darlington at 4 p.m. in a consolation matchup at Berry College.

Coosa boys 57, Woodland 54

The Coosa Eagles and the Woodland Wildcats played to a thrilling finish that went right down to the buzzer in a consolation game Wednesday as Coosa survived 57-54.

Woodland had a chance to send the game to overtime, but a 3-pointer at the horn fell short.

The first half was advantage Coosa by only three points as both teams held their own. However, the halftime score could have been vastly different as the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run to end the half after the Eagles had built a 29-19 lead.

The game was a back-and-forth scoring battle that was close all game. The largest lead for either team was 10 points and there were nine lead changes.

Coosa (4-4) had four players reach double-digits. They were Zehbien Philyaw (12), Jaylen Nelson (12), Kenon Dixon (10) and Sean Brown (10).

Justice Carter paced Woodland (1-8) with 12 points, and Dawson Wilkins added nine.

Pepperell boys 74, Armuchee 57

The scoring was hard to come by on both sides early, but both Pepperell and Armuchee soon hit their groove before a strong second half allowed Pepperell to pull away for a 74-57 win in a consolation game Wednesday.

While the first half saw both teams stay with one another, Pepperell distanced itself from the Indians in the final two periods as the Dragons outscored Armuchee 40-27 in the second half.

Pepperell’s Dawson Melton and Davis McGinty both made huge impacts as they put up 15 and 14 points respectively. Koby Drew was right behind them on the Pepperell squad (3-3) with 13.

Armuchee (2-9) was paced by Brayden Perry (15), Chaney Holder (12) and Eli Brock (11).