As a result, the Tigers came out on fire shooting the ball in the first quarter and went on to defeat Pepperell Wednesday by a score of 57-30 at Georgia Highlands.
“I was proud of our kids. It was less than 24 hours of rest and they came back against a team that’s beaten us earlier in the year, and we played as a team, we played hard and we shot it well,” Adairsville head coach Kent Howard said. “It was really gratifying for me as a coach to see my team come back with such character like that, the day after they took a tough loss against Darlington.”
Adairsville made several 3s in the first quarter to jump out to a 25-10 first-quarter lead. Tyler Washington hit a few of those shots and finished with 15 points and seven assists after scoring 26 the night before.
“Our Achilles heel all season is we just haven’t been able to make many perimeter shots. That obviously makes a difference,” Howard said. “It was a great start and that’s where we’ve struggled. We’ve gotten off to a slow start in most of our games, and it was fun to see our guys get off to a fast start and come out with guns blazing.”
Adairsville was able to hold onto the lead throughout the second half.
The win was particularly gratifying for the Tigers because of their first-round loss to Darlington Tuesday.
“Last night’s loss was really tough to swallow,” Howard said Wednesday about Tuesday’s loss. “It was a humbling loss. We were up nine and in control of the game, and then the last four minutes, we lost the lead and lost the game.
“I just think our kids didn’t like the thought of being in the loser’s bracket, and we were kind of out to prove we were better than we were the night before.”
The game also was of special significance to Adairsville because the team had already lost to Pepperell earlier this season on Nov. 26 by 15 points.
“It was a good win. We won against a quality program, so we’re happy going into Christmas break,” Howard said. “We tell our kids, there’s three seasons in basketball: one before Christmas, one after Christmas and then tournament time. You know, we’re walking out of the first season 6-3, which is the best start for an Adairsville boys basketball team in eight to 10 years. We like that.
“Hopefully this next season, which begins after Christmas, we keep playing and shooting the ball well.”
Also encouraging for the Tigers was the fact that some football players are starting to shake the rust after beginning basketball practice late due to the football team’s playoff berth.
Marcus Childers had 13 points and three steals, while Sidnee Johnson scored 10.
“That’s a good night,” Howard said. “We had a couple of different guys step up and that’s what we needed.”
Woodland falls to Rome
The Rome boys basketball team is greatly improved from a season ago and now owns a 6-4 record after going 8-18 last year.
Despite the Wolves’ recent success, the Woodland Wildcats proved to be a tough out against their region rival Wednesday evening in the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Festival, but fell short in a 60-54 second-round loss at Berry College.
“I felt like we played really well. We knew coming over here that we have to overcome a lot of adversity between the new arena, the new officials we had to face, and Rome, who’s a really quality team and much improved,” Woodland head coach John Howard said. “I feel like, overall, we played our hearts out and that’s all I can ask of our kids.”
Rome and Woodland played each other to an even score in each quarter except for the third period, which proved to be the difference in the game.
The Wolves outscored the Wildcats 18-12 thanks to a 12-2 run in the first three minutes of the second half.
“I think they just went on a little run. We got tired and didn’t get back on defense and didn’t box out a couple of trips and it cost us,” Howard said. “We didn’t play through physical play tonight. We need to value the ball a little bit more and play through contact.”
One advantage for Rome in the third and fourth quarter would be the free throw disparity, as Rome shot 16 to Woodland’s four in the second half.
Woodland managed to cut the lead back down to six entering the final period as senior point guard Qua Stocks created several scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates. He finished 7-for-8 from the free throw line in the game. Senior backcourt partner Romello Hicks hit two critical 3-pointers late in the third to keep Woodland in the game entering the fourth quarter.
Junior center Carrod Watson also put forth a strong showing and had 17 points and 11 rebounds despite battling foul trouble throughout the game.
“We were just playing cat and mouse. He could have went out at any time, but we felt like we needed him out there,” Howard said of trying to keep Watson out of foul trouble. “I think we pulled him for like three or four minutes. That probably hurt us a little bit, too.”
On two different occasions in the fourth quarter, Woodland cut the lead to just two points. The Wildcats eventually got into foul trouble as a team and Rome was able to get to the free throw line nine times in the final period to ice the game.
Desmon Green made three strong drives to the basket to keep Woodland in striking distance late in the game, but it was too little, too late.
“Offensively, we need to do a better job of attacking the basket off of penetration because it opens up everything, but all in all, I think we did fine,” Howard said. “They’re a really good halfcourt defensive team and we knew that coming in.”
The Wildcats no longer have a chance to win the tournament, but will play a consolation game today at Georgia Highlands at 5:30 p.m.
Cass picks win
The Colonels notched a tightly contested road win against Southeast Whitfield Tuesday by a score of 53-51.
The game was tied at 24 at halftime, but Cass took the lead in the third quarter and was able to hold on from there.
Senior co-captains Justin Reed and Kelin Wells each chipped in 11 points. Reed had five points in the third quarter, while Wells hit three 3-pointers in the game.
Matt Mundy also hit three 3s and finished with 11 points.
Overall, the Colonels went 8-for-19 from behind the arc, a vast improvement compared to the team’s early season shooting struggles.
Keylon Woodard did not hit any 3s, but did contribute nine points to the cause.
Cass will play again today in the Mountain Schoolboy Classic.