Calhoun High School girls basketball coach Jaime Echols got a good first look at his team a week ago Saturday when they won their opening game against Starr’s Mill in Marietta.
He’s gotten an even better (and much longer) look at them this week.
The Yellow Jackets tipped off their winter campaign on Nov. 13 with a 46-33 road triumph over Starr’s Mill, shutting the hosts out in the third quarter and giving up just two buckets the entire second half.
But they didn’t play for nine days after that, until Monday when they played games Monday and Tuesday in the North Murray Turkey Jam. They then have their home opener 4:30 p.m. Saturday afternoon against Dalton on Middle School day where the younger players will also be recognized.
Now Echols wants to see the lessons learned from that first game and another week of workouts in the gym taken to the floor this week.
“We’ve played one game and we feel good about winning it and this (last) week, we got back in the gym and worked on a lot of different things after we found out a lot of things about ourselves in that first game,” Echols said. “We found a lot of things we need to continue to get better at and we found a lot of things we need to learn from and we found a lot of things that we can definitely build on. And now we’ll find out even more about ourselves this week because we have the tournament and we have the game against Dalton.”
The Yellow Jackets faced Rhea County Monday afternoon in their first game at North Murray and then came back Tuesday afternoon to face Chattooga in their second game before breaking for Thanksgiving.
“I think we’ll see a couple of pretty good teams at North Murray,” Echols said. “But the thing we want to do is just keep getting at the things we want to do at both ends of the floor.”
The first game was close the entire first half, but then Calhoun kept the Panthers from making a shot in the third period and allowed just six points in the final 16 minutes to pull away.
“The girls played very well, especially in that second half,” Echols said. “I thought we did a great job with our pressure defense. I think we wore them down and that’s what we want to do.”
The team also had outstanding balance with veteran senior point guard Britiya Curtis leading the way in scoring with 16 points. Freshman guard Kat Atha and junior guard Aryian Berner had eight points each while senior post player Malysha Winston tossed in six more points.
“I think it was a good first step for us,” Echols said. “We had some freshman playing their first varsity game ever and so in the first half, they were scrambling maybe a little bit and we weren’t getting where we wanted too with some of our switches and some of our pressure traps, but it seemed like then the light bulb went off and we really started to get it and we did some very good things defensively in that second half. Anytime you can shut a team out for a quarter defensively, there’s not really anything more you can ask from your players and we did that, so I was pleased with it. But it’s early, so we’ve still got a ton of things we need to keep working on.”
He said he expects a gritty game with Dalton because of the rivalry.
“Dalton will be a good test,” Echols said. “They like to beat us and we like to beat them and so there’s that rivalry factor. But I just want to see us keep working hard and playing hard and use it as another game to keep getting better at what we’re trying to do.”
The game between the schools is the first of their two matchups as they will begin 5A Region 7 play on Tuesday, January 11 at home against Hiram and then host Woodland, Friday, Jan. 14 before traveling to Dalton the next afternoon for the rematch.