Cavaliers break through for first win
By KEVIN ECKLEBERRY
They’re perfect where it counts.
The Callaway Cavaliers lost their first five games of the season, but they handled Temple 55-48 on Tuesday night in their Region 5-AA opener.
It was also the first-ever varsity win for Andre Johnson, who is in his first season as Callaway’s head coach.
“I’m proud of those boys,” Johnson said. “It was a good region win. I look forward to seeing (Temple) again. I know that’ll be a team that we’ll match up with again, and it’ll be tough.”
The Cavaliers played their first three games of the season extremely short-handed since many of the team members were still playing football.
When the football players arrived after winning a state championship, Callaway lost a pair of games against two strong foes, Handley and Newnan.
“I told the boys, look, the first couple of games we had to go without everybody, and then we played some tough opponents the last two games,” Johnson said. “That was a chance to jell, and now the season starts. We’re 0-0, let’s go ahead and start.”
One of the football players making an adjustment to a new sport, Demetrius Coleman, led the Cavaliers with 16 points.
Javontay Boddie and Exavious Reeded added eight points apiece, and Cameron Smith and Kaleb Salter each scored six points.
Boddie, a senior and a four-year starter who has been with the basketball since day one, said the players took what they’ve been doing in practice and carried it over to a game.
“Coach just tells us to keep busting our butt every day, and we push each other around in practice,” Boddie said. “If we do that in a game, we’ll start winning. Tonight we played defense, and got back, and rebounded and boxed out and got a lot of steals.”
The Cavaliers, who trailed 26-25 at the half, outscored the Tigers by five points in the third quarter to take a 37-33 lead.
The Cavaliers built the lead to nine on a basket by Salter with 5:22 remaining, but the Tigers fought back and got within one with four minutes left.
The Cavaliers were still clinging to a one-point when Coleman scored and was fouled with 2:53 to play.
Coleman missed the free throw, but Smith pulled down the rebound, and he passed the ball back to Coleman, who scored and was fouled once again.
Coleman knocked down the free throw, and the Cavaliers had a 50-44 lead with 2:48 remaining after scoring five points in a five-second stretch.
The lead was three when Coleman beat the Temple down the court for a layup, and Callaway was on top 53-48 with 28 seconds left.
Shepard came through with a steal with 12 seconds to play, and he then made two free throws with nine seconds left to cap the scoring.
Callaway will continue its region schedule with a game at Haralson County on Friday.
“Coach told us in the locker room, tonight we started (region play) with a good win,” Boddie said. “We just have to keep progressing, keep fighting, and we should win the region.”