As a result, poor shooting and overzealous defense made for a sloppy first half.
However, Adairsville found its stride in the second half and into the fourth quarter as the Tigers went on to defeat Cass Saturday night at Adairsville High by a score of 46-34.
“It’s always nice to get the first one. Cass is always a fun game for us,” Adairsville head coach Kent Howard said. “It was a physical game, a lot of fouling. It was two teams that know each other real well, so it gets personal.”
Each team had its foul trouble in the first half as Adairsville standouts Tyler Washington and Sammie Frazier played limited minutes in the first two quarters. Meanwhile, the Colonels fouled early and were over the limit five minutes into the game. Cass was in the bonus, themselves, soon after.
Adairsville shot 5-for-9 in the first half from the free throw line, while Cass made 4-of-12. The Colonels also struggled from the floor in the first half, shooting 28 percent, and did not score a field goal for an 11-minute stretch.
“We need to have more motion in our offense. We have too many people standing around waiting for someone to make a play instead of getting involved in it,” Cass head coach Greg Scott said. “We need more ball movement, which will lead to better shots and more assists.”
Adairsville’s Corey Davis supplied some offense to keep Adairsville ahead in the game when Washington and Frazier were in foul trouble. His three driving buckets in the second quarter gave the Tigers a 19-14 halftime lead. Davis finished with 13 points on 6-of-10 shooting for the game.
“When two of your better players have foul trouble, it’s always tough, but we had other guys step up and fill in the gap, and I’m proud of those guys,” Howard said. “Corey Davis played a great game. Corey and Spenser Moore, those two guys played with a warrior’s heart tonight. They did a lot of good things.”
The third quarter saw more scoring from the Colonels. Kelin Wells and Jordan Morning each stepped up and hit a 3-pointer to keep Cass within striking distance.
For Adairsville, Washington saw his first extended period of playing time after dealing with two fouls in the first half. He came out aggressively and had seven points in the third quarter.
Cass had its highest scoring period of the game and trailed the Tigers by a score of 29-26 heading into the final period.
In the fourth quarter, Frazier finally saw extended playing time after dealing with foul trouble of his own. His biggest impact in the final quarter was his offensive rebounding presence.
“We were outrebounding them by five or seven in the first half. Even though we shot as bad as we did, we were still there,” Scott said of how his team stayed close in the first three quarters despite the poor shooting. “[Adairsville], in turn, flipped the rebounds on us and outrebounded us by one for the game. I think that’s a big difference.”
Frazier had just four points and one rebound in the first three quarters, but had nine points and eight rebounds in the final period to help Adairsville pull away.
“You always worry when two of your better players go out that they’ll take advantage, and they did to some extent. But our guys kind of weathered the storm,” Howard said of Washington and Frazier’s foul trouble. “Big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games and this is a big game for us.
“To get in foul trouble, get discouraged, and find a way to win is just awesome.”
Justin Reed did what he could to keep the Colonels in the game. He had six points and five rebounds in the fourth quarter. He finished with nine rebounds and 14 points in the game.
In the end, however, it would not be enough for the Colonels and they shot 12-for-34 in the contest.
Scott was disappointed after the game of how his team played and believed his team had played better in its 72-63 loss at Heritage.
“I said we were young before the season and we are. We have nine kids that have never seen a minute of varsity action, and sometimes we act like that,” he said. “We got beat [last game], but played much better than what we did today. Much better.”
One of the reasons for Cass’ shooting struggles was the defense of Adairsville, who were able to keep Cass from getting easy buckets in transition and kept the Colonels out of the paint for most of the game.
“Going into the game, we wanted to see our guys guard. We wanted to see them stay in front of the ball,” Howard said. “Defensively, we didn’t change anything the entire game. We stayed in our press and we stayed in man. I thought our guys did a good job of staying in front and not letting them penetrate, and that’s where they are good. But I do feel like we have guys who are athletic enough to guard off the dribble.”
Cass will now move on to its home opener Saturday against Newton, while the Tigers go on the road against Pepperell Tuesday.