CALHOUN, Ga. — It's been quite the different kind of season for the Calhoun High School boys' basketball team.
Fresh off a Final Four appearance in the GHSA Class AAA playoffs, the Yellow Jackets entered Tuesday night's Region 6 tournament at Sonoraville with a losing record and having to win two games just to return to the postseason.
If Tuesday's 70-45 win over Coahulla Creek is any indication, Vince Layson's team isn't ready to hang up the equipment just yet, struggles or not.
"It's always tough to play in the first round, but at this point it's survive and advance and we did," Layson said with a smile. "We started the season out slow. We lost a lot of talent and we are playing a ton of sophomores who are still feeling their way, but we are actually starting to peak a bit."
Calhoun (10-13) will face North Murray in a quarterfinal-round game today at 5:30. The Mountaineers routed Haralson County, 57-12, in Tuesday's first game. Also Tuesday, Adairsville eliminated Murray County, 53-44, and Bremen edged Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe, 56-55, and those two winners meet tonight at 8:30.
If the Jackets are to reach the postseason and again make some noise it will hinge, as always with Layson, on their defense. That scrappy side showed itself Tuesday as Calhoun forced 19 turnovers and managed to turn the Colts' patient offense into a rushed outfit that played right into the Jackets' hands.
Point guard Porter Law, a key reserve in last season's long playoff run, was the catalyst on both ends of the court, scoring 11 points, adding six rebounds and getting four steals. The usually pass-first Law was encouraged to get a bit aggressive, and that helped turn a 11-10 deficit after one quarter to a 34-21 lead at halftime.facebook
"We know with Porter running the show we're in good shape," Layson said. "Most of the time he's very passive — he's more about getting his teammates involved — but near the end of the first period things weren't going so well and I told him, 'Look, you're getting some steals and going down and passing the ball. Why not go to the rim and reward yourself?'"
Law's aggressiveness, which helped key a 12-0 run to start the second quarter, was evident as he drove for a basket, stole a pass and dished for an assist and attacked the lane at every opportunity. Five Calhoun players scored during the run.
"We've been trying to find some consistency and depth, and tonight it showed," Layson said. "We had a lot of guys get involved."
That included guard Xaxton Godson, forward Chase Goble and 6-foot-5 post Davis Allen, each of whom joined Law in double-figure scoring. Reserve Caleb Bone also had a key hand in the win, scoring seven points in the final 1:38 of the first half to push the lead to 13.
The Colts (8-16), a 2017 playoff team that suffered major graduation losses, could not gain ground in the second half despite a game-high 26 points from guard Maddox Adams. Davis topped Calhoun with 13 points, with Law adding 11 and Godson and Goble getting 10 each.
"We're not used to it at all, but it's more games for us and more time for us to improve," Law said. "Tonight it was all about defense. We're not that good playing against the zone, but we got after them some and that got our transition offense going."
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