Zaylan Chaney helped Cass build a double-digit first-quarter lead against Rome Tuesday at home. After the Wolves made things interesting in the third quarter, Chaney picked it up again to lead the Colonels to a 68-50 win.
Chaney scored 21 of his 23 points over the pair of decisive periods to help Cass keep pace with the leaders in the rugged Region 7-AAAAA. With the result, the Colonels strengthened their hold on fourth place in the nine-team league.
"Taking care of home is always important to us," Colonels head coach Sean Glaze said. "But every region game is big, as we get into seeding, looking at who we're going to play and wanting to make sure we get to where we want to be at the end of the season. Each one of these games is a chance for us to build better habits, and that's where I think we're getting better."
After beating Rome 77-54 in the teams' first meeting, Cass looked set to cruise to another win. Chaney had 10 points in the period, while Braxton Benham added eight.
The Colonels (13-8, 8-4) ended the quarter on a 12-0 run to take a solid 20-9 lead into the second. But the Wolves (3-14, 2-8) refused to lay down.
Cass was held to five points in the second quarter, as Rome methodically got back in the game. The Wolves had the five five points of the half, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the corner, to pull within 25-20 by halftime.
"Through the first quarter, we ran really good offense, but we missed a boatload of shots," Glaze said. "I think in the second quarter, our defense and rebounding started to be affected, because we were upset that we were missing so many shots.
"We have good players, who can put the ball in the hole. We have to understand that, even when we miss good shots, we're still good players."
Foul trouble also hindered Cass. The Colonels had one player foul out and three others with at least three fouls for much of the night.
"We had a few kids who were upset early on with some touch fouls that were called," Glaze said. "We had to sit some kids who normally play a little bit more for us.
"It's a good learning experience, because we have to adjust to the referees, they're not going to adjust to us."
Rome threatened to turn the second half into a nail-biting experience only to see Cass explode for a 23-point third period. A 15-3 run after the Wolves had trimmed the deficit to 30-28 put the Colonels back in control.
"I thought the second half, we came out with a little more energy, took care of the boards and kept running good offense," Glaze said. "We just made a few more shots."
Chaney was again the catalyst. Following a scoreless second quarter, the sophomore poured in 11 points in the third. Zay Jackson and C.J. Pipkin stepped up with five points apiece in the key stanza.
Armed with a 48-33 lead entering the fourth quarter, the Colonels never led the Wolves pull to within single digits, Eventually, the Cass bench — led by Alfred Washington's eight points — completely buried Rome.
"Alfred has come in and played strong for us," Glaze said. "He's good on the boards. Zay Jackson is going to be a good player. Ethan McIntyre came in and played strong for us, had some strong boards.
"We've got some kids who are continuing to develop. They're good kids who are going to make us a pretty strong team down the stretch. I'm excited about it."