The old adage about rivalry games is that “you can throw out the record books when those two get together.” That held true Thursday night as one-win Woodland (1-7) pushed Cartersville (6-1) deep into the game, but the Canes pulled it out in the end on their way to a 49-38 win.
“I knew Woodland was going to play tough,” Cartersville coach Mike Tobin said. “We looked kind of stagnant out there, but Woodland had a lot to do with that.”
Jaylon Pugh scored 16 points for Cartersville, which looked to have the game wrapped up at halftime but let the Wildcats come back to tie the game late in the third.
It was a game of runs. Camden Royal hit two 3s and Jaylen Ballard one for Woodland as the Wildcats jumped out to a 9-4 lead.
Cartersville came storming back, and Pugh hit a 30-foot buzzer-beater to end the first quarter and give the Canes a 15-13 lead.
He hit another early in the second, before Avery Showell made a highlight reel play by stealing the ball, dribbling behind his back to escape a defender and going coast-to-coast for a layup.
Showell had 11 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and three steals.
His highlight was the least of Woodland’s worries in the quarter though, as the Wildcats didn’t manage a single point in the period and went into the half down 24-13.
“I’m once again very pleased with our defense,” Tobin said. “It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t entertaining to watch, but we won the game.”
It looked like Cartersville, having dealt with the early run by Woodland, was on its way to a comfortable win, but the Wildcats were having none of it.
Guard Hunter Johnson hit three 3s in quick succession, the Canes couldn’t buy a bucket, and just like that, the game was tied at 30.
Cartersville scored four quick points to go into the fourth up 34-30, but a statement had been made.
“I’m proud of them, we played [well],” Woodland coach Colman Roberts said. “That’s probably the best team we’ve played all year, in my opinion.”
Roberts’ team wouldn’t get any closer though, as Pugh and Showell combined for 10 points in the fourth to clinch the game for the Canes.
T.J. Horton backed up those two with seven points and five rebounds for Cartersville, while Isaac Gridley and Trase Fezzia each had five.
Woodland got all of its points from five players, as Royal had 10, Johnson nine, Ballard seven, and Trevor Knowles and Justice Hayes six apiece.
Both teams will break for Christmas and come back with another county rivalry game, as Cartersville plays Cass on Dec. 28 and Woodland takes on the Colonels on Jan. 3.