CARTERSVILLE, Ga. - Greg Elkins kept watching the clock and waiting for this team to show some signs of life. When it didn't happen in a timely manner, the Ringgold High School boys' basketball coach decided to start lighting into his Tigers.
Trailing by as many as 10 points against Catoosa County rival Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe in the semifinals of the Region 5-AAA tournament Monday, the Tigers finally shook off the obvious rust of a nearly two-week layoff with a strong second half and a 62-53 win.
Ringgold (18-7) will play Cartersville in tonight's championship game at 8:30. LFO (17-10) plays North Murray for third place at 5:30.
Sonoraville and host Cartersville will vie for the girls' championship at 7 after impressive wins over Ringgold and North Murray, who will play for third at 4.
"We hadn't played in 10 or 11 days, so we knew we were going to be a little rusty," Ringgold's Elkins said. "We were even flat getting off the bus, but I thought we would shake it off after two or three minutes. Instead, it lasted the whole [first] half, but we got that straightened out at halftime.
"We played much better defense in the second half, and that's the key for us and it got us back in the game."
The Warriors owned the inside in the first half, led by Tristan Evans and Daniel Oliver, but a 6-0 Ringgold run ending the first half cut the margin to four and was a portent of things to come. The Tigers, 3-of-12 shooting from behind the 3-point line in the first half, hit three bombs in the third period, two by guard Kile Sholl, as they evened the score at 39 entering the final period.
A determined Dakota Baer drive at the 4:23 mark gave Ringgold its first lead at 44-43 and ignited a 10-0 surge that also included Zach Dean's five consecutive points. The Tigers never led by fewer than nine the rest of the way.
"We hit some big shots in the second half, and offensively we started taking it into the paint more, and that opened things up for us," Elkins said. "We've got our hands full tomorrow night, but no matter what happens we've clinched at least one home playoff game."
Sholl led the winners with 14 points, with Dean and Jordan Ransom adding 12 and Baer tallying 10. Alex Rattanaxay topped LFO with 13, with Evans and Oliver scoring 12 each.
Contact Lindsey Young at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 423-757-6296.