Cal­houn comes through again to win 6th straight ti­tle

Jack­ets make the plays down the stretch to de­feat Bre­men, earn 6-AAA crown

Calhoun Times - - SPORTS WEDNESDAY - By Alex Far­rer

One of the most com­monly used mantras in sports is “it’s not how you start, it’s how you fin­ish.” The 2017-18 Cal­houn boys basketball team is a shin­ing ex­am­ple of that.

The Jack­ets, who started the sea­son 1-9, showed that if you get hot at the right time, you can ac­com­plish great things. That’s what hap­pened as Cal­houn started play­ing their best basketball late in the sched­ule and rode that mo­men­tum to a 4-0 run through the Re­gion 6-AAA Tour­na­ment that cul­mi­nated with a 63-53 vic­tory over Bre­men on Satur­day night in the cham­pi­onship game at Sono­rav­ille High to give them their sixth straight re­gion ti­tle.

“It’s kind of un­real,” said Cal­houn coach Vince Layson af­ter the cham­pi­onship win. “There was a lot of doubt with the way we started the sea­son. But these se­niors showed strong lead­er­ship, and I’m so happy for them. They pulled us through. We fin­ished strong and peaked at the right time. This is the sixth in a row, but this one is about as spe­cial as it gets.”

The Jack­ets (13-13) came out strong on Satur­day night as they fin­ished the first quar­ter on a 15-1 run to take a 19-9 lead go­ing to the sec­ond. Bre­men (12-16) re­sponded, how­ever as they got some big buck­ets and made 7-of-10 free throws to outscore Cal­houn 16-10 in the sec­ond quar­ter to cut the Jack­ets’ lead to 29-25 as the teams headed into the locker room for half­time.

The Blue Devils con­tin­ued the mo­men­tum af­ter the break, scor­ing the first six points of the third quar­ter to take a lead briefly at 31-29, but Cal­houn showed their cham­pi­onship pedi­gree by an­swer­ing back with a 10-0 run to take a 39-31 lead in a stretch that had a huge im­pact on the fi­nal out­come.

The Jack­ets never trailed again af­ter that. Bre­men con­tin­ued to fight and pulled within one at 41-40, but each time they made a run, Cal­houn punched right back with cru­cial bas­kets and free throws. The Jack­ets took a 47-43 lead into the fourth quar­ter, and the two most ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers on the ros­ter took over from there as se­nior Porter Law and ju­nior Davis Allen com­bined to score 14 of the team’s 16 points in the fi­nal pe­riod to ice the game. The pair com­bined to go 9-of-13 from the free throw line down the stretch.

“That’s the game of basketball, you’ve got to re­spond to the op­po­nent’s run by go­ing on a run of your own,” said Layson. “The sec­ond half went tit-for-tat for a while, and I didn’t think it was in hand at any point. But we grinded it out and made the plays when we needed them to get the win.

“Porter, you know what you’re go­ing to get from him every night. Our whole team looks up to him, and he’s our leader. Even when he’s not scor­ing, he is con­trol­ling al­most ev­ery­thing we do on the court, whether that’s get­ting us into the right of­fense or set­ting the tone on de­fense. I’m es­pe­cially happy for him this week be­cause he got some re­demp­tion af­ter not be­ing named to the All-Re­gion Team last week­end. He came in here with a chip on his shoul­der and played about as well as you can. Davis has been solid for us all year long, and we know we can al­ways count on him. He hit some very big shots tonight and closed it out with some clutch free throws in the fourth.”

Allen scored 18 points to­tal with 12 of those com­ing in the sec­ond half and eight in the fourth quar­ter, while Law added 11 points and hit six big free throws in the fourth. Xax­ton Goodson was the Jack­ets’ lead­ing scorer on the night as he had 18 points with nine com­ing in the first quar­ter to help his team stake their early lead.

“Xax­ton has had an up and down type of year with him in the start­ing lineup at the be­gin­ning and then go­ing through some strug­gles where he didn’t play a whole lot,” said Layson. “But even when he wasn’t play­ing, he was the ul­ti­mate team­mate, and he just kept work­ing and do­ing what­ever he could in prac­tice to get bet­ter. Once he got his chance to get back in the ro­ta­tion, he has stepped up in a big way. I’m ex­tremely happy for him. He puts a lot of work in, and we’ve seen the fruits of that lately, es­pe­cially tonight.”

Chase Goble added seven points for Cal­houn, and Tononcito Martha scored five.

Char­lie Crafton scored a game-high 20 points for Bre­men, in­clud­ing 11 in the third quar­ter as he al­most sin­gle­hand­edly kept his team in the game. His team­mates Ben Bar­row and John Dobbs each added eight apiece.

TIM GODBEE / For the Cal­houn Times

Cal­houn poses for a team photo af­ter de­feat­ing Bre­men on Satur­day night to claim their sixth straight re­gion ti­tle.

TIM GODBEE / For the Cal­houn Times

Cal­houn’s Xax­ton Goodson (cen­ter) goes up for a shot be­tween Bre­men de­fend­ers on Satur­day.

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