Hur­ri­canes top Wolves in de­fen­sive bat­tle for ti­tle

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL SPORTS - RN-T Sports Edi­tor Cartersville’s T.J. Hor­ton goes up against Adam An­der­son un­der the bucket dur­ing Fri­day’s game.

It had been four years since Cartersville had last been able to par­tic­i­pate in the Rome News-Tri­bune/Seven Hills Ro­tary Christ­mas Tour­na­ment.

Af­ter all that time, the Pur­ple Hur­ri­canes still found them­selves clutch­ing the Gold Ball Tro­phy at the end.

Play­ing at a packed Cage Cen­ter at Berry Col­lege on Fri­day, Cartersville man­aged to win the de­fen­sive bat­tle against a hard-nosed Rome squad and get the 40-28 vic­tory in the boys’ championship game. And from the tip-off to the fi­nal buzzer, points were at a pre­mium on both sides of the bench.

“From a fan stand­point it prob­a­bly wasn’t very en­joy­able to watch, but I’m re­ally proud of how our guys played de­fense. What a game for us on de­fense,” Cartersville coach Mike Tobin said.

The Pur­ple Hur­ri­canes (6-0) took the third quar­ter 5-0 af­ter missed shots from Rome caught up with the Wolves and they went 0-for-4 at the line in the pe­riod while their op­po­nents went 3-of-4.

Cartersville came out fast on of­fense for the fourth quar­ter and went on an 8-2 run that gave the ’Canes a 34-23 lead with 3:56 left to play. Foul shots dom­i­nated the re­main­der of the game with Cartersville get­ting the bulk of them.

“Our big­gest con­cern was we knew at half­time we had to keep our de­fense up,” Tobin said. “We felt like our shots would start fall­ing.”

A spark came from Jay­lon Pugh as he hit his sec­ond of two 3-point­ers as part of the ’Canes’ fouth-quar­ter run.

The se­nior fin­ished with a game-high 13 points and went 5-of-8 at the line down the stretch.

“Jay­lon didn’t shoot it like he nor­mally does, but he hit that big three in the fourth quar­ter that kind of got us over the hump,” Tobin said.

Pugh was named tour­na­ment MVP for his per­for­mances in all four of Cartersville’s vic­to­ries. He was joined by team­mates TJ Hor­ton and Perignon Dyer on the all-tour­na­ment team.

Hor­ton fin­ished with 12 points in the ti­tle game. Rome (2-1) was once again paced by Caleb Byrd, but the sopho­more man­aged to get just eight points, four of which came in the first quar­ter. Adam An­der­son and Rod­ney Sul­li­van each fin­ished with six points, while Trai Hodges and Terrell Con­ner each hit a 3-poin­ter.

Byrd and An­der­son were both named to the all-tour­na­ment team.

The Wolves have played just three games this sea­son, all of them com­ing in the tour­na­ment, and coach Eric Hol­land has ex­pressed how they are more ca­pa­ble on de­fense than of­fense at this point.

And while hold­ing a team to 26 points in three quar­ters can be con­sid­ered a suc­cess, Rome never found a rhythm un­der the bas­ket when it counted.

The game was tied up at 21 each at half­time af­ter the two teams traded runs in the sec­ond quar­ter. Rome started with a 7-0 run that put them up 14-11 less than four min­utes into the pe­riod. Cartersville re­grouped and re­took the lead, 1916, be­fore a shot by Jor­dan Watkins and a free throw by An­der­son put Rome ahead 21-19 with a minute left. Hor­ton then got a layup with 46 sec­onds on the clock.

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