TRENTON, Ga. - Following a similar script as in their first meeting this season, a fourth-quarter run helped the Calhoun High School girls' basketball team blow open a close game for a commanding victory Friday against Dade County.
The Lady Yellow Jackets led by just one midway through the third quarter but scored the final five points of that quarter to extend their lead, then opened the fourth with seven consecutive points and claimed a 50-37 Region 7-AA win.
Calhoun (15-1, 7-0) used a smaller lineup to open the fourth period and immediately turned up the defensive pressure, creating two straight turnovers in the backcourt that kick-started the scoring run.
"They have inexperienced ball-handlers, so we wanted to see if we could pressure them into some mistakes and get things going our way," Calhoun coach Jerry Pruett said. "Our defense was definitely the difference in the game tonight. Once we got a couple of easy scores, they had to start gambling a little more, and that opened things up for us more."
The first time the teams met, Calhoun outscored Dade County (13-4, 4-3) 12-1 in the fourth for a double-digit win. Friday night's impressive showing put the Lady Jackets in command in the region race; they own at least a two-game lead over every other league foe.
"Nothing has been decided yet, but now that we've swept Dade and they have three region losses, we pretty much have a four-game lead," Pruett said.
Both teams struggled offensively throughout the first half and traded the lead seven times before Calhoun's Bree Walraven's 3-pointer with four minutes left in the second period gave her team the lead for good.
Dade County closed within one early in the third but made just two of six free throws with a chance to reclaim the lead, and Calhoun began to pull away later in the quarter.
"We didn't handle their pressure very well," Dade coach Randy Watson said. "The first time we played, they pounded us on the inside to pull away, and this time they just forced us into too many turnovers. They can create a lot of matchup problems and make it tough on you in a lot of ways."