CALHOUN, Ga. - As a senior playing his first season with a basketball team, Chandler Curtis often finds himself deferring to his teammates during a game. Monday night in a 60-53 Region 7-AA semifinal win over Coosa, the Calhoun guard took matters into his own hands late in a tight game.
With his Yellow Jackets ahead by only two with two minutes to play, Curtis took a pass on the right wing and set sail for the goal. As Coosa's Isaac Bradley slid over to contest the shot the 5-foot-10 Curtis went up and over the startled Bradley for a layup. Twenty seconds later Coosa's Bill Bell had a clear path to a layup before Curtis blocked the shot out of nowhere.
The Eagles did not score again as Calhoun (21-2) secured a spot in tonight's championship game against Model, which needed two overtimes to edge Dade County, 61-60.
"Chandler Curtis is one of the most explosive athletes you will ever see on the court," Calhoun coach Vince Layson said. "He showed that out there today when he put the whole team and gym on his back. I sometimes have to remind him that no one in the gym can guard him and sometimes he needs to cut loose."
Curtis, who transferred to Calhoun after starring on Gordon Central's state-playoff football team a year ago, said he knew it was time to make a difference.
"I'm a LeBron James fan and I believe there's another mode in me, and tonight I had to turn it on there," he said. "This is what this team has been playing for all year, to get back to the region title game, and we know we've got to be faster and stronger tomorrow and I think we're ready for it."
Coosa (18-8), behind the hot shooting of Tavaris Wilson and Bell -- who scored 19 and 16 points -- never let the Jackets get comfortable. Calhoun had a one-point lead entering the final period when Austin Byrd and Keyth Fightmaster asserted control inside, Byrd scoring five points and Fightmaster four in a 9-2 run early in the period.
Wilson, though, hit a 3-pointer and a short jumper to get Coosa within two at 55-53 before Curtis lit up the gym with his high-wire act.
Kaelon Riley and Byrd led Calhoun with 18 points and combined for 16 rebounds.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.