The Tigers showed no ill effects of the short turnaround and bounced back with a victory over Woodland at Adairsville High by a score of 53-34 to improve to 11-8 on the season.
“Coming back from a night like last night, when you play really hard for four quarters and come up short with less than 24 hours rest, you always wonder how your guys will respond this late in the year,” Adairsville head coach Kent Howard said. “One thing that I do know about us is that’s kind of our identity. We play a lot of Friday and Saturday night games. Our guys have responded awesome. They’ve been great, so I knew that preparation and focus wouldn’t be an issue, it would just be if we could score.”
Adairsville was able to score its share of points in the first quarter but took the lead because of the team’s defense. Woodland scored just two points and shot 1 for 19 in the first quarter.
The Wildcats were able to get very few shots inside the paint and did not score until four minutes into the game. As a result, Adairsville led 11-2 after one.
“Defensively, I think we’ve been really good for the last two or three weeks,” Howard said after the game. “We had a tough North Murray team come in here and we held them to 30-something points. If we can do that, we can hold teams under 50, we always have a chance and we’ve done that. We’ve been a really good defensive team.”
Woodland got its offense going a little more in the second quarter when Romello Hicks and Markise Smith each hit a 3-pointer to help Woodland go on an 8-2 run in the first three minutes of the period.
Adairsville’s offense came in the second half as Sammie Frazier, Tyler Washington and Torrey Hale each had five points in the period. Dametrices Pitt added a basket just before the buzzer sounded to give the Tigers the momentum and a 36-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
According to Howard, the Tigers shifted their offense to better attack Woodland’s 2-3 zone in the second half.
“That’s something that we’ve really struggled with quarter to quarter. Some quarters we score real well and some we don’t,” Howard said. “We didn’t change anything that we’ve done. We made a little tweak against there zone but it helped us hit some shots. That tweak gave us a little room to make a shot or two. And then they got out of the zone as soon as we made a couple of shots. That was the only adjustment, but really, just kids making plays.”
Adairsville scored 18 points in the first half and 35 in the second.
“It was just attacking their gaps. We didn’t do a good job in the first half of getting in the creases of their zone, so in the second half, we put a little pressure on the perimeter guys to attack those guys a little more,” Howard said. “It’s not rocket science. It’s all about numbers. We just turned our zone offense a little bit to get better angles at the gap. And the guys did a good job for us and they made shots.”
Adairsville continued to score in the fourth as Washington took advantage of the man-to-man defense Woodland switched to and was able to get into the lane to make plays for himself and teammates. Frazier, a senior, was often the beneficiary of the defense collapsing on Washington, also a senior, and scored eight points in the final period.
Frazier also anchored the Adairsville defense and blocked four Woodland shots to go along with his four rebounds in the fourth quarter.
“Our seniors are who we’ve told, we’ve said, ‘We go where our seniors go and I’m just blessed to have a group of seniors that decided this year they want to go and do things the right way and do things down the stretch,” Howard said.
Frazier capped the game with an emphatic dunk off a Washington pass just before the final buzzer sounded. The play gave Washington three assists in the quarter, six for the game, to go along with his 14 points and five rebounds.
Frazier finished with 13 points, six rebounds and five blocks in the game.
“I tell them every game is important. Every possession is important,” Howard said. “Everything that you involve yourself with in life is important, so tonight’s game to us was as important as any region game because it’s the next game and because we want to develop men who compete in every phase of life. We want to develop men who show up to be dads every day. They can’t pick and choose moments when it’s fun. I’m proud of the kids. It’s a good win.”
Woodland was led by Hicks’ 10 points. Carrod Watson had seven points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in the game.
The Wildcats are now 11-10 on the season and play Allatoona at home on Tuesday. The schedule does not do Woodland any favors as Allatoona is currently undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA.
Adairsville will take on Ringgold Tuesday in a home game at 7:30 p.m.