VALLEY – He knew what he was going to do.
With less than a minute remaining in Tuesday’s game against the Valley Rams, Callaway’s Braylon Sanders got the ball in the paint, with defenders all around him.
The outcome was still very much in doubt at that point, but Sanders was about to put the game on ice with the play of the game.
Sanders made a quick step to the basket, and he hammered home a tomahawk dunk to give the Cavaliers an eight-point lead with 50 seconds remaining.
The Cavaliers didn’t score again, but they’d done enough to secure a 63-59 victory on the Rams’ home floor.
Sanders led the Cavaliers with 21 points, and two of those points came on his emphatic dunk that put an exclamation point on the victory.
Dre Martin and Joe Brown each scored 16 points for Callaway.
“I knew before I got the ball I was going to go to the goal,” Sanders said. “I was trying to make a play.”
Once Sanders made his move, his only thought was to dunk the ball.
“I knew I was going to get that one from the get-go,” Sanders said.
The Cavaliers led by 10 points through three periods, but the Rams kept hanging around, and they never let the game get out of reach.
Callaway did what it had to do to get a road win over a determined opponent, though.
“The second half, we started running our offense, starting hitting jump shots,” Callaway head coach Terry Hayes said. “We got some steals, we got some momentum.”
The Cavaliers, who opened with a win over the Greenville Patriots on Friday, improved to 2-0 on the young season, and they’ll try to make it three in a row with a home win over the rival LaGrange Grangers on Saturday.
Callaway started quickly in Tuesday’s game, surging to a 6-0 lead less than two minutes into the game, but Valley went on an 11-1 run to take a four-point lead.
After Sanders made a 3-pointer to pull the Cavaliers even, the Rams got a basket to take a 13-11 lead through one period.
The Rams kept that lead throughout the second quarter, and they were up by as many as six points before settling for a 29-27 lead at the break.
Sanders hit a 3-pointer late in the second period to get the Cavaliers within two.
The Cavaliers were down by three points early in the third period when they seemingly took control.
A Sanders dunk got the Cavaliers within one, and Brown followed with a basket to give the visiting team a one-point lead.
The Cavaliers went on a 16-2 run to seize a 45-34 lead with about two minutes remaining in the third period, and they took a 48-38 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Rams weren’t done.
When Chad Lowe drained a 3-pointer with 4:30 to play, the Rams were down by five.
The Rams got within three when Lowe completed a three-point play, but that’s as close as they got.
The Cavaliers were leading by four when they ran nearly a minute off the clock, and that possession ended with Martin scoring to give his team a 61-55 lead with 1:38 to play.
“We ran our delay game to perfection,” Hayes said. “We ran time off the clock, and made a layup.”
Less than a minute later, Sanders delivered his highlight-reel dunk to give the Cavaliers an eight-point cushion.
The Rams got a couple of baskets in the final minute, but they came no closer than four points the rest of the way.
Reach Kevin Eckleberry at (706) 884-7311 or on Twitter @lagrangesports