The Carrollton High boys basketball team entered Tuesday as the No. 9 team in Class 5A and tied with Kell for first-place in Region 7-AAAAA.
Playing at Carrollton’s gym, Cass was the underdog in the matchup, which is why the Colonels’ 49-40 win Tuesday will put the rest of the classification on notice.
Not only was Cass’ win an upset, but it also puts the Colonels one win away from locking up the No. 2 seed in the region tournament, which means they would host a first-round game. The winner of that game makes the state tournament.
“It’s a big-time win,” Cass head coach David Brock said. “We’ve been waiting for a signature win like that since I’ve been here, almost two years.”
Senior guard C.J. Bennett had one of those nights, scoring 27 despite Cass’ slowed-down pace of play.
He dropped two 3s and had eight points in the first quarter, and kept it going with eight more points in the second quarter for a 28-17 lead at halftime.
“Most of the time, if somebody can get 14 or 15, as slow as we play, that’s pretty good. But he was feeling it tonight,” Brock said of Bennett. “He was doing it all, finishing at the rim, he hit three 3s. He had some games like that last year when he ran loose a little bit, but we needed him [Tuesday night] and he came up big.”
As is typically the case with Cass, when the team gets out to an early lead, it is difficult to stage a comeback because the Colonels hold the ball for so long on offense.
At one point, Cass took a 15-point lead in the second quarter, and there were not many possessions down the stretch for Carrollton to come back with.
“We’re just so patient offensively. Carrollton did some good stuff to try to speed us up, jump trapping and not letting us do some things we like to do. But if we can get a seven- or eight-point lead, we’re tough to beat because there’s not many possessions in a game,” Brock said. “Once we start grinding it out, it becomes kind of tough to guard us. Once you finally go for a steal, that’s when we’ll back cut and get a layup. So we did a good job of executing.”
Carrollton was able to cut Cass’ lead to four points in the fourth quarter, but the Colonels got two big 3s by Mark Chester and a couple more baskets by Bennett to hold off the Trojan run.
Cass is now 18-6 overall and 12-3 in region play. The Colonels will host Carrollton in the final game of the regular season on Thursday. With a win, Cass will secure the No. 2 seed in the region tournament and host the first round.
East Paulding 84, Woodland boys 74
East Paulding was too much for the Woodland High boys basketball team Tuesday night.
Woodland kept with the Raiders in the first quarter and only trailed by one point, but the Wildcats were outscored by 16 in the middle two quarters as East Paulding ran away for an 84-74 win at Woodland High.
Woodland made 9-of-11 free throws in the first quarter, but East Paulding scored 22 points in the period to hold a one-point advantage.
Justice Hayes then scored 10 second-quarter points for Woodland, but once again, East Paulding was too busy scoring on the other end to mind, pulling out to a 48-40 halftime lead.
The third quarter was the worst for Woodland, as the ’Cats went cold while the Raiders stayed hot. East Paulding outscored Woodland 20-11 in the period to extend the ’Cats’ deficit to 68-51.
Woodland would outscore East Paulding 23-16 in the final period, but it would not be enough.
Hayes scored 15 of his team-high 19 points in the first half, while Hunter Johnson made three 3s and went 7-for-7 from the free throw line for his 18 in the game. Jaylen Ballard added 14 for Woodland, which now falls to 1-21 on the year and 0-15 in region play.
The Wildcats have one more game at Hiram Friday to end the regular season.