The identity Howard and his team decided on was that of a stout defensive unit, which was on display Saturday night at Cass High as the Wildcats played excellent defense throughout the first three quarters in their 71-50 victory over the Colonels.
“After the Lithia Springs game, we didn’t do very well. We sat down, had a talk, looked at some film and decided we had to figure out what kind of team we were going to be and we decided we were going to be a defensive team,” Howard said. “All our transition stuff offensively was going to come off what we did on the defensive end. We held Villa Rica to 47 points [Friday], 20 points below their average. Tonight we held Cass to 50 points.”
Woodland got out to a quick lead as the team went on a 10-0 run in the first four minutes of the game.
Carrod Watson made his impact felt on both ends in the first. He scored nine points and had six rebounds in the period.
“I thought Watson played well. He altered some shots. He gets easy points for them inside and you have to guard him when he goes out because he can hit the outside shot,” Cass head coach Greg Scott said. “Woodland is long, lean and athletic and that bothers us. We can’t simulate in practice so you get in the game and you have to throw around it, over it, length bothers us.”
Cass came back at the end of the quarter, however, as Jason Morning hit a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left in the quarter to make the score 19-11 going into the second period. Morning finished with 19 points and five steals in the game.
“I thought Jordan Morning had a excellent game for us tonight,” Scott said. “He hit some shots that he had been missing. We need the scoring that he gave us tonight every night.”
The second quarter was played fairly evenly, but Cass had its chances to close Woodland’s lead and was unable to do so, resulting in a 32-21 Woodland lead at halftime.
“We got behind early and then we got back into the ballgame. It was 26-20 with about a minute or so to go in the second quarter. We had the ball and missed a layup, they go down and hit a shot, so it’s a four- or five- point swing,” Scott said. “But we could have been down four. Instead we’re down eight or nine. From that point on, in the next seven minutes and five seconds, they outscored us by 24 points. They ended up beating us by 21. Every little possession. Every little detail is so important to us because we struggle to do certain things. That was a big turning point.”
Woodland came out after halftime and scored early and often. The Wildcats scored 12 points in the first 3:20 of the third quarter to balloon its lead to 17. Qua Stocks and Romello Hicks each hit a 3 during the run. Hicks had nine points in the period.
Once again, however, it was Woodland’s defense that allowed the Wildcats to seperate themselves. Cass scored just 32 points after the third quarter and Woodland took a 53-32 lead into the fourth.
“We feel like we are improving defensively. That’s going to carry us home in the second Half of the season through Christmas,” Howard said. “We’re looking forward to the Rome News-Tribune tournament next week. There’s some good competition there, but I’m just happy the way we played the way we did tonight.”
Each team scored 18 points in the fourth quarter with most of the starters sitting the bench. Watson still finished with 18 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Hicks finished with 15 for Woodland.
Woodland is 5-5 and headed to Rome News-Tribune Holiday Festival. The team will play Cedartown Monday at 4 p.m. at Georgia Highlands.
Cass is now 1-9 and will play Southeast Whitfield Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. on the road.
“Our kids are still working hard,” Scott said of his team. “They’re staying true to everything were trying to teach them. Their attitudes are great and that’s all we can ask, is that they keep working and we’ll see where we’re at by the time the tournament rolls around.”
Canes lose overtime thriller to Hillgrove
Cartersville boys basketball coach Mike Tobin wanted to play higher quality competition this season, which is why he scheduled Hillgrove, last season’s AAAAAA state runner-up.
As a result, the Purple Hurricanes may have picked up their first loss of the season, 71-70, but received some valuable experience in an overtime game against a talented Hillgrove team Saturday afternoon at Greater Atlanta Christian.
“The whole point of playing in [The Greater Atlanta Christian Showcase] was to play good teams and we definitely did,” Tobin said. “It’s great. They are AAAAAA, and they have pretty much everybody back, and we got down 11 in that third quarter and we battled back. It was a great experience for our kids. Obviously, we’re not happy we didn’t get the win, but I think it will make us better.”
According to Tobin, the first half went back and forth with each team making runs. However, Hillgrove was able to take a nine-point halftime lead with a late first half run due to a couple of Hillgrove points off Cartersville turnovers.
Cartersville battled back in the second half and trailed by just two late in the game. Hunter Benham then put back a miss for Cartersville to tie the game and force overtime.
The Canes jumped out to an early lead in the extra period before Hillgrove responded with a couple of baskets of its own.
“We got the lead in overtime, but then they got a couple of quick scores,” Tobin said. “We were actually up one and inbounding it. They got a steal and we fouled them and they hit both free throws to go up one.”
Hillgrove’s B.J. Brown connected on the free throws with 12 seconds left, giving the ball back to the Canes.
“Then at the end of the game we had a real good look,” Tobin said. “Ryan [Davis] hit the front of the rim, but is was right on line. It was a good look.”
Davis finished with 18 points for Cartersville and Corey Tobin had 16. A.J. Mosby was the leading scorer with 19.
“The big three had really good games,” Tobin said. “They did a good job getting to the line. We made our free throws, 12-for 14 from the line.
“It was a good game. It was good for the kids.”
Cartersville’s next game will come in the Rome News-Tribune Holiday Festival Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Berry College. The Canes will play the winner of the Trion-Pepperell game on Monday.