If heading into the state tournament playing well is a recipe for success, than the next few weeks could be awfully fun for the Callaway Cavaliers.
There have been some bumps in the road for the Cavaliers, who dropped four out of five games at one point in January.
But on the eve of the state tournament, the Cavaliers (18-7) are a hot basketball team.
After finishing the regular season with four wins in five games, they swept through the Region 5-AA tournament with a 3-0 record to secure the championship.
The Cavs are rolling, they’re confident, and they could be poised to make some noise at state.
They’ll face their first state test Friday night against Dawson County, the fourth-place team from Region 8-AA.
Tip time is 6 p.m. and the game will be played at Callaway High.
Greg Moultrie, who took over the head-coaching position from Terry Hayes this season, felt when he arrived this team had the ability to make a run at a state championship, and the Cavs appear poised to do just that after rolling to the Region 5-AA championship.
“I go back to the interview I had when I first got here,” Moultrie said. “They asked me what I could bring, and I said the ingredients are already here for a championship. I’m just trying to stir the ingredients the right way.”
As Moultrie said, the ingredients were in place when he arrived.
A year ago, the Cavaliers finished second in the region, advanced to the second round of the state tournament where they lost in double-overtime to Dade County, and finished 21-7.
Almost all of the players responsible for last season’s success were back for another go-around.
Still, things didn’t always go smoothly.
The Cavaliers lost three in a row in January to lose out on a chance to be the region’s No. 1 seed.
Since a one-point loss to Macon County, though, Callaway has won eight of out nine games, and it won three in a row at the region tournament.
“We just came together,” Moultrie said. “We got back to what we were doing at the beginning of the year when we played so well when we had that eight-game winning streak. We just went back to basics.
“We went back to practice and re-committed ourselves. When we play together, there aren’t too many teams that are going to beat us.”
The Cavs are a veteran team.
Terrance Jackson, D.J. Rutledge, Quantavius Leslie and Quan Bray all started on last season’s team, and other guys like Reggie Perry, Chris Laye and Dominique Smedley got a lot of playing time last season.
Rutledge said the players can’t wait to show what they can do on the state stage.
“We’re playing good basketball right now going into the playoffs,” he said.
As for Dawson County, Rutledge said “we’ll bring it to them and show them all about Callaway basketball and hopefully play hard and compete.”
Dawson County isn’t a pushover, though.
The Tigers bring a 20-8 record into the game, and they’re in the state tournament for the fourth straight season under head coach Thad Burgess.
“Our guys take great pride in getting back to the state playoffs and reaching the 20-win level,” Burgess told the newspaper in Dawsonville. “This makes four straight years playing in the state tournament, surpassing last year’s first-ever three straight years in the history of the school.”
The Cavaliers are undaunted, though.
They’re talented, focused, confident, and ready to make a run for a title.
“I love coaching the guys,” Moultrie said. “They never quit. We just want to move forward, and continue the momentum and go all the way to Macon (for the semifinals).”