Still, the Purple Hurricanes had to win their final game Tuesday to officially be crowned Region 5-AAA champs, which they did, by a score of 85-53 at home against Ringgold to secure homecourt advantage through the first two rounds of the state tournament.
Ringgold appeared to be up to the task of competing with Cartersville through the first quarter and only trailed by a score of 17-12 after one.
Cartersville then struggled to score through the first 3 1/2 minutes of the second quarter as Ringgold whittled the lead down to one point.
The Canes managed to stay ahead because of their defense, and when the offense caught fire midway through the second quarter, Ringgold fell deeper and deeper in a hole it would not be able to climb out of.
The Cartersville 3-point shooting barrage began when A.J. Mosby came off a double-downscreen and connected on a 3 from the top of the key.
A similar play was executed on Cartersville’s next offensive possession when Corey Tobin was the recipient of the downscreen and canned his second 3 of the game.
After the consecutive 3s, the Canes then utilized ballscreens set by Hunter Benham to free guards Ryan Davis and Mosby for baskets in the paint. Benham added a couple of baskets of his own and before the half was through, Cartersville had scored 18 points in four minutes thanks to some flawless offensive execution in the halfcourt.
The run gave Cartersville a 15-point halftime advantage. The Canes shot 9 for 12 from the field in the second period and held Ringgold to just 2-of-8 shooting.
Ringgold came out in the second half and hit two 3s in the team’s first two possessions, courtesy of all-region selection Kile Sholl.
Not to be outdone, Tobin, the Region 5-AAA Player of the Year, responded the very next possession with a 3 of his own.
Bryce Gober and Mosby then hit two 3s to make it three consecutive 3-pointers and give Cartersville a 20-point lead less than 90 seconds into the second half.
The play of the game came early in the fourth quarter when Mosby, who also was selected to the all-region team, cut into a Ringgold passing lane to steal the ball. He then took a few dribbles before executing a perfectly placed one-handed bounce pass between two defenders to Davis streaking down the left wing. Davis then caught the pass at his hip, took two steps and threw down a thunderous two-handed dunk to give Cartersville a 33-point advantage.
From there, Cartersville continued to cruise to its victory and played its substitutes for much of the second half.
Mosby finished as the game’s high scorer with 23 points. Tobin added 14 and fellow all-region selection Davis added 16. Benham also had 16 points and added nine rebounds.
In addition to Cartersville’s three selections, Adairsville seniors Tyler Washington and Sammie Frazier were also selected to the all-region team.
Cartersville’s next game will be Saturday at home in the first round of the state tournament.
Gilmer 44, Cass 38
Few familiar with Region 7-AAAA expected the Cass boys basketball team to play in the semifinal game of the region tournament after already clinching a state playoff berth.
As a result, the Colonels were playing with house money Tuesday at Cass High and almost pulled off their second stunning upset, this time falling short gainst Gilmer County.
“That’s two days, consecutively, we’ve executed the game plan to a T. We just didn’t make shots tonight, but I’m happy with their effort,” Cass head coach Greg Scott said of his team. “The difference in last night’s game and tonight’s game was made shots. Last night, their 3s went in. We made two tonight and seven last night. We got open looks tonight, just like last night, but the ball didnt go in.”
Cass missed several shots in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter, while Gilmer was able to connect to pull away with the victory.
Despite shooting just 34 percent for the game, Cass was able to compete with Gilmer thanks to its defense. The Colonels utilized a triangle-and-2 defense to stop Gilmer’s top two weapons, Joe Bob Charles and Wheeler Lancey.
“I don’t know if they still haven’t figured it out yet,” Scott said of the Gilmer players not knowing what defense Cass was playing. “Their players were on the floor, ‘They’re in man. They’re in man,’ but we weren’t in man until the very end.”
Gilmer was forced into 14-second half turnovers, a high total for a fundamentally sound and skilled Gilmer squad.
“We just put [the triangle-and-2 defense] in today. We did it on the fly. We didn’t work on it on the floor, but the kids executed it,” Scott said. “ Our defense was super. Our effort was great. Our effort was good enough to win, but we didn’t make shots at the end of the day.”
Justin Reed was the top Colonel Tuesday, scoring 17 of Cass’ 19 first-half points.
Cass will move on to the consolation game Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at Cass High.