CHICKAMAUGA, Ga. - Sometimes practice pays off even when you're not at practice. For Trion High School senior guard Kaleb Stoner, a little shooting on the side helped him have a highlight night Friday.
Stoner hit his first seven shots and scored 22 points as the Bulldogs won 66-53 at Region 6-A rival Gordon Lee, ending a string of losses in Chickamauga and reaffirming that physical education classes can indeed be beneficial.
"My and my friend play H-O-R-S-E every day in P.E., and it's for times like this," said Stoner, whose prowess from the perimeter burned a Gordon Lee defense intent on stopping 6-foot-6 post Isaac Thomas. "My teammates kept passing it to me, and luckily I was hitting my shot tonight.
"This is the first time since I started high school that we've won here, so this being my senior year I'm happy."
Stoner also was part of a strong early defensive effort, twice getting steals and layups as Trion (13-2, 6-0) ran out to a 9-0 lead and was up 17-9 after one quarter. He scored 12 consecutive points for the Bulldogs ending the opening period and into the second as the visitors built a 33-17 halftime lead.
"Kaleb was hot for us, and we had to have that tonight," Trion coach Lanny Thomas said. "We've got a few perimeter players for us and we go with the hot hand, and Kaleb was that tonight."
With more attention played to Stoner, Isaac Thomas went to work in the third period, scoring six consecutive points as the lead grew to 19, prompting Gordon Lee coach Ed Clendenen to call two timeouts in 17 seconds of play. The Trojans (7-9, 2-3) responded behind Garrett McAllister with a 13-2 run, getting to within nine on his short jump shot with 1:38 still to play in the third.
Trion, though, regrouped in the fourth and put the game away with an early 9-0 spurt, capped by Stoner's jumper from the corner.
"We dug a hole," Clendenen said, "and while I'm proud of them for fighting to the end, we didn't do a good enough job of fighting to begin with. Trion's got too good a team to get that far behind. We finally started driving a bit and doing some good things, but it was too late."
Stoner added seven rebounds and three blocked shots and Isaac Thomas was his usual dominant self inside with 16 points and 22 rebounds. McAllister topped the Trojans with 24 points and four steals.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.