However, in the last six seconds of his team’s home game against region rival Paulding County, Smith hit a contested corner 3 to give Woodland the lead and then sealed the game with a charge on the defensive end.
“My teammates and coaches believe in me shooting,” Smith said of his 3-pointer that gave the Wildcats a 49-48 lead with 5.4 seconds remaining in the game. “I just took the shot. I don’t know, I just felt it.”
The charge came seconds later to ensure the victory.
“Coach always tells us, when the man’s out of control in the lane, to step in and take the charge, so that’s what I had to do,” Smith said.
Despite the thrilling finish, it did not seem as though the game was going to go Woodland’s way in the early going.
Paulding County led 17-5 after the first quarter and held Woodland to 2-of-15 shooting in the period.
“We told our players not to get down in the first quarter because we had some quality shots that just didn’t fall,” Woodland head coach John Howard said. “We usually shoot the ball better than tonight.”
The poor shooting was partially due to Paulding County’s defense, which blocked five shots in the first quarter and three more in the second.
Paulding senior Raasean Davis, who is a Kent State commit, accounted for three of those blocks. He also scored eight points and grabbed three rebounds in the first quarter.
Bartow basketball fans will see few matchups this season as intriguing as the one between Davis and Woodland’s Carrod Watson, both measuring in at 6-foot-7 and 200-plus pounds.
Watson and his team picked up their defense in the second quarter and the offense followed suit. The Wildcats were able to get back into the game thanks to 3-pointers by Watson, Romello Hicks and Emmanuel Niblet. The three 3s accounted for nine of the team’s 13 points in the quarter, but it was the defense that brought Woodland back into the game.
Howard has had his team playing a 2-3 zone as its primary defense the last two games. The zone was especially effective in the second quarter as Paulding shot just 2-for-12 and scored five points in the quarter.
“We switched to a 2-3 zone against Allatoona to try to give us a different look other than the straight man-to-man,” Howard said.
The strong defensive quarter brought Woodland within four at halftime, but the third period would be when the team started to get into a rhythm on the offensive end.
Daune Davis provided a spark for Woodland as he scored nine points in the third quarter on 4-of-5 shooting. Watson also hit two 3s and made an impact on the defensive end. The junior blocked a shot in back-to-back possessions and then came up with a steal the very next play to help Woodland take its first lead of the game with three and half minutes left in the third quarter.
The Patriots had difficulty scoring against Woodland, but were able to stay in the game as they went to the free throw line 18 times in the second half to Woodland’s four times.
The game was tied entering the fourth quarter, but Paulding County took a four-point lead after Woodland failed to score for the first three and a half minutes of the final period.
It was then that Howard was forced to take off the zone and go man to try and create a turnover. That is precisely what happened as Hicks stole the ball away and passed it away where Smith missed a contested shot, but Niblet followed it up with a tip-in score with two and a half minutes remaining in the game. Hicks took a risk on the play as he had four fouls, but his steal allowed Woodland to cut Paulding’s lead to two.
After the Woodland defense got another stop, Watson once again delivered with an off-balance contested 3 at the top of the key with a minute left to give Woodland the lead at 46-45.
Paulding’s Michael Hemphill then took the lead right back 23 seconds later with a driving hoop.
After Woodland failed to score on its next offensive possession, the team fouled and was fortunate when Paulding missed the second of two free throws, keeping it a two-point game.
Watson got the rebound and Woodland pushed the ball into the frontcourt without using a timeout. The ball ended up in Smith’s hands in the corner for what would turn out to be the game-winning score.
“We really didn’t determine who was gong to take that,” Howard said of the last shot. “We were just going to push the ball hard up the floor. The [Paulding player] had a hand in [Smith’s] face. He played good defense, but Markise just hit a heck of a shot.”
After a Paulding timeout, Hemphill once again drove right to try to take the lead again. However, Smith stepped in and was able to draw the charge to seal the victory for the Wildcats, who are now 10-8 and 4-6 in region play.
“That was a really big play down here. That could have been a charge or block,” Howard said of Smith’s defensive play. “Paulding County was sitting No. 2 in our sub-region, so that was huge to get a win against them tonight. Tonight we came out as a team. We had a great practice yesterday after the Adairsville game and everybody on the team contributed tonight.
“I just couldn’t be more excited.”
In the battle of the bigs, Watson more than held his own against Raasean Davis, as he hit four 3s, scored 13 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots. Davis scored 16 points, had eight rebounds and four blocks.
Woodland’s Duane Davis also had a strong game and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Wildcats hope to ride the momentum from the win into Friday when they take on region rival Rome at 7:30 p.m. at home
Cartersville 84, North Murray 59
The Canes moved to 7-0 in Region 5-AAA Tuesday night at North Murray as they handed the Mountaineers a loss thanks to a strong defensive effort in the second half.
Cartersville led by just six points at halftime after getting outscored 27-16 in the second quarter.
“It was kind of a combination of they got hot and we didn’t play very good defense,” Cartersville head coach Mike Tobin said of the second quarter. “We turned it up a notch in the second half, really the fourth quarter. It was a 10-point game going into the fourth and then we played a lot better defense.”
The Canes were able to score in the first half thanks to 15 points by Corey Tobin. Ryan Davis and A.J. Mosby then came on in the second half. Davis led the team with 21 points in the game. Tobin finished with 18 and Mosby 17.
“We were just pushing the ball up the floor and Corey was really hot the first half,” Mike Tobin said. “It was a good win.”
Cartersville is now 15-2 on the season and plays Ringgold Friday at home on Youth Basketball Night at 8:30. Cartersville defeated Ringgold 77-41 in the two teams’ first matchup on Dec. 21, 2013, but Ringgold has since gotten healthier and has its players back from the football team’s playoff run.
Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 52, Adairsville 45
Heading into Tuesday night’s game at Adairsville, LFO had established itself as the second best team in Region 5-AAA so far.
As a result, there is no shame in the Tigers falling to LFO by just seven points.
Senior center Sammie Frazier played well for Adairsville and finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Spenser Moore added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Adairsville would have had a better opportunity to the win the game if it were not for a 10-for-27 performance at the free throw line.
The Tigers are now 7-7, 3-3 in the region and will take on Gordon Central Friday on the road at 8:30 p.m.