Chris Fernsler Sports Writer
Coach Terry Hayes and the Callaway High boys are a perennial state playoff team. Winning is at the crux of their basketball philosophy.
The Cavaliers are used to big games and earth-shattering wins. Seldom are they not mentioned among the best high school basketball teams in Georgia. But this is one of those off years for Callaway.
Hayes and the Cavaliers are in an unfamiliar position with a losing 6-8 record. Callaway is 3-4 in Region 5-AA. But one thing that the Cavaliers haven’t done is to resign themselves to the thought of this being a losing season.
Callaway is still looking for a comeback and a surge. The Cavaliers are always lurking, and they are always working. Winning is still the basketball goal for Callaway High.
The Cavaliers got one of those much-needed wins on Tuesday night with a 59-48 verdict against Columbus Jordan in a region game at Hogansville. Winning does ring a bell for the Callaway boys.
They have not forgotten how this can be attained. Callaway is no region 5-AA cupcake. The Cavaliers dropped another hint against the Jordan Red Jackets.
“We played hard and smart. We played better defense. We converted our free throws, and we made some layups,” said Hayes.
Callaway High stole the ball repeatedly, too. The happy hands of the Cavaliers came up with 20 steals. Many of those steals turned into points for the Callaway boys.
“Callaway is very disciplined at both ends of the court. And we made mistakes at crucial times. Callaway did a good job on the boards, and we didn’t box out,” said Columbus Jordan head coach Ben Braaten.
The Cavaliers went on a 17-9 run in the second quarter to take a 25-17 lead. Leading the break for Callaway was junior forward D.Q. Wilkerson with a layup, senior guard Braylon Sanders with a pair of rim-rocking dunks and junior center Courtney Williams with a putback.
Sanders also poured in a three-pointer with 1:26 left in the second period for a 23-15 Cavalier advantage. The 6-foot-2 Sanders found his groove. He opened the third period with a dunk and later scored on a layup and another dunk with 2:31 remaining. Sanders gave Callaway High a 36-27 lead after his fourth slam dunk of the game.
The teenage talent is a highwire artist of the basketball kind. “He is very athletic,” said Braaten.
Sanders is also unselfish. He had an assist on a Tamarcus Smith layup in the third quarter. The fourth period had Callaway’s fingerprints on it, too. The Cavaliers managed the game and controlled the tempo with layups from Smith, Wilkerson, Courtney Williams and junior forward Kedrick Ramsey.
The Cavaliers also put some icing on this win with some fourth quarter free throws from Wilkerson and Ramsey. It was a team victory for Callaway High with contributions from a variety of players – Smith with 21 points and six steals, Sanders with 15 points and five rebounds, Wilkerson with eight points and Ramsey with eight points and six rebounds.
The Jordan Red Jackets had three double figure scorers, and the Columbus boys still lost to Callaway. Jordan was led by junior forward Quentin Duke with 14 points, senior guard Onte Harrison with 12 points and 6-foot-3 junior Anthony Brown with 11 points.
Jordan is 7-13 on the season and 2-5 in the region.