SUMMERVILLE — Down 13-0 in the early minutes of the game, Rockmart boys’ coach Vic Calhoun just wanted his team to do one thing — be patient.
The Yellow Jackets’ patience paid off Friday in the semifinals of the Region 7-AA tournament when they rallied against Model for a 58-52 win at Chattooga.
The second-seeded Yellow Jackets (15-10) had been in the situation earlier in the season against No. 3-seeded Model (17-8) and came out on top in both matchups during the regular season.
“Every time we play Model it’s like that,” Calhoun said. “It’s always a great game. They’re such a good team, and they’re so well-coached.”
After an 8-0 deficit to start the game, Calhoun called a timeout to check on his team.
“I was like ‘Hey guys, be patient,’” Calhoun said. “‘We’ve been in this situation before, settle down.’ I just calmed them down a little bit, told them to trust it, don’t worry about the clock and just keep playing.”
The Jackets slowly ate away at the Devils’ lead trailing 18-10 after the first quarter, and managed to get within one point late in the second quarter before a 3-pointer in the final seconds by Jared Bomer gave Model a 27-23 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Rockmart’s Tyler Rowland came up big for his team. Rowland led the Yellow Jackets with 26 points, including six 3-pointers.
Rowland scored three of his 3s in the third quarter alone that were key in getting the Jackets back in the game. His first 3 in the quarter cut Model’s lead to 32-31 with 2:56 left in the period. Another 3 about 40 seconds later tied the score 34-34, then his final 3 in the third quarter made the score 39-38, giving the Jackets their first lead of the game.
“I could talk about him for hours,” Calhoun said about Rowland. “He’s the best kid I’ve ever coached, and I’ve coached a lot of good ones. The last five games, he’s really carried us. I’m so proud of him and the basketball he’s been playing lately.”
Juke Boozer added 13 points for Rockmart, and Javin Whatley followed with nine points.
Model was led by Bomer with 16 points, Jabari Burge with 15 points, Dane Fisher with 13 points, and David Veillon with eight points.
The Jackets will face Chattooga on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in the championship game. The Blue Devils will take on Coosa in the third-place game at 5:30 p.m.
Chattooga 83, Coosa 66
After spending a week with no competition on the court, Chattooga coach Jared Groce was concerned his team might be a little rusty, but the Indians quickly put to rest any worries about being sluggish.
The Indians (21-5) racked up 28 points in the first quarter on their way to an 83-66 win against Coosa in the semifinals of the Region 7-AA tournament Friday on Chattooga’s home court. The win was the 11th straight for the Indians as they defeated Coosa (14-10) for the third time this season.
“We came in with a lot of energy,” Groce said. “I was worried that we would lose some of our momentum because we’re on a really good stretch, but our boys came out and picked up right where they left off last week. I’m proud of them and the effort they gave.”
The game was close in the first quarter with a 16-14 Chattooga lead until freshman Damien Smith sparked a 12-0 run for the Indians to push their lead to 28-14 late in the period.
Smith scored 10 points in the run and finished with 28 points including seven 3-pointers.
Also for Chattooga, Malachi Jackson scored 18 points and was 4-for-5 from the free-throw line, Jaterrion Williams finished with 12 points, and Cash Allen scored 10 points.
Zeph Philyaw scored 21 points to lead the Eagles, Malaki Martin added 16 points, Keshawn Kindred scored 11 points, and Jaquze Morgan added 11 points.
The Indians will face Rockmart on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in the championship game. The Eagles will go up against Model in the third-place game at 5:30 p.m.