The Cartersville boys put forth what head coach Mike Tobin called "the best defensive game of the year" to overcome another deficit to earn a spot in the Region 5-AAAA championship game.
Trailing 39-37 entering the fourth quarter, the No. 3 seed Canes absolutely locked down second-seeded Troup County, holding the Tigers to four points in the final period to land a 53-43 win in the tournament semifinals Friday at Sandy Creek.
Unlike Wednesday's comeback from 13 points down against LaGrange, Cartersville (15-12) led through most of Friday's victory, which guarantees the Canes a first-round home playoff game in the Class 4A state tournament.
Cartersville sprinted to an 18-13 lead after one quarter behind seven points from Micah Tart. Perignon Dyer took over in the second period, dropping home seven of his 10 points in the stanza for a 31-25 halftime advantage.
Troup (16-9) climbed into the lead after holding Cartersville to just one field goal and six total points in the third quarter. The Canes flipped the script in the fourth to secure the double-digit win.
Despite scoring no more than four points in any quarter, Amarai Orr finished with a team-high 15 points for the Canes. Dyer was the only other Cartersville player to reach double-figures, although Kolbe Benham (nine points), Tart (eight) and Isaac Gridley (seven) all made solid offensive contributions.
Cartersville split with Troup during the regular season, dropping the season-finale on the road to lose out on the No. 2 seed and automatic bid into state. The Canes, though, had the last laugh and will play in the title match against the winner of Friday's late game between top-seeded Sandy Creek and No. 4 seed Cedartown at 7:30 Saturday night at Sandy Creek.
Rome 62, Cass girls 48
For the second straight day, the Cass girls got off to a slow start on offense. Against some of the top teams in the state, those are often too much to overcome.
Following a 56-47 loss to Carrollton in the Region 7-AAAAA tournament semifinals Thursday, the Colonels had to settle for fourth place with a 62-48 loss to Rome on Friday at Villa Rica.
The Wolves doubled up the Colonels in the first quarter Friday, leading 12-6 after one period. Five points apiece from Claire Davis and Sharia Wade were all Cass could muster in the second, but Rome only held a 23-16 edge.
Ironically, even though they got their offense going, the third quarter was when the game started to slip away from the Colonels (21-7). Davis had five more points in the stanza and Wade capped her 10-point performance with her second 3-pointer. However, the Wolves (18-10) increased their lead to 42-29 entering the fourth.
Cass put together its best offensive performance in the final period. Payton Stoddard had all five of her points; Amber Brittian had five of her six; and Davis had six of her game-high 16 points. It was too little, too late.
The Colonels will hit the road for the opening round of the Class 5A state tournament next weekend. Cass will face the champion of Region 6-AAAAA — the winner of Friday's championship game between Jackson (Atlanta) and Decatur.