As a result, Davis came out with extra motivation in Monday’s third-place game at Allatoona High as he led the Cartersville boys basketball team to a 60-53 victory over Carollton.
“He looked strong,” Cartersville head coach Mike Tobin said of Davis. “He looked real strong, and when he does that, it rubs off on everybody else, too. He’s a good point guard.”
Davis scored 23 points in the first three quarters and finished with seven assists, five rebounds and four steals to spark the Canes and earn a spot on the all-tournament team.
“It just made me want to start early in the game and try to get easy buckets,” Davis said of losing to Allatoona Saturday. “It was all good teams [in the tournament] and I just wanted to come out and play the best we could this game. ... It was a little personal [against Carrollton]. The assistant coach I know him from way back. He coached my brother in high school.”
“I feel like I played to my abilities, got transition buckets and kicked it to my shooters, Corey [Tobin] and A.J. [Mosby].
Cartersville got out to a four-point lead at the end of the first quarter and that was the lead entering the third and fourth quarters as well.
Senior Jalen McKeller held Carrollton’s post, 6-foot-7, 250-pound senior Montae Glenn, in check in the heavyweight battle in the paint. McKeller transferred to Cartersville this year and has given the Canes size in the post that the team lacked a season ago.
“Jalen did a good job. [Glenn] is a big old kid. [McKeller] did a real good job,” Tobin said. “He picked up a foul early. We were worried he could start getting into foul trouble because that could have been disastrous for us.”
Cartersville also got production inside from senior forward Hunter Benham. Fellow forward Hakeem Winters did not play in the game because of an ankle injury. Benham stepped up and had nine rebounds for the second consecutive game as the Canes outrebounded Carrollton 13-8 in the first half despite Glenn’s presence.
Cartersville saw its lead drop to one point with four and a half minutes remaining in the game, Cartersville’s narrowest lead since the opening seconds of the game. Tobin then made a defensive adjustment and went to what he calls a “cloud and chaser.”
“We felt like the two best players were [Cooper Criswell] and [Glenn], so we had one guy on [Criswell] and the rest of the guys were trying to keep [Glenn] from getting good looks. We made a little adjustment there,” Tobin said. “Teams like that, where we don’t really feel like they have two or three good shooters, we try to do that. I haven’t done that all year, but we’ve done it in the past when they have one stud. ... We have Corey at the free throw area and we have A.J. follow their best shooter.
“Basically we have four guys in the lane trying to make it tougher on [Glenn].”
The strategy worked as Cartersville forced Carrollton into just 5-of-15 shooting from the field and 12 points in the fourth quarter.
The Canes struggled offensively early in the final stanza themselves and scored just two points in the first three and a half minutes. They would go on a run from there, however, beginning when Davis got into the lane and kicked to Tobin for an open 3 to get the lead back out to four. McKeller then hit a cutting Mosby for two points in the lane on the very next possession, followed by a Mosby offensive rebound a putback the next trip down the floor.
The three consecutive baskets gave Cartersville a 7-0 run in less than a minute of game clock and a 54-46 advantage.
“I thought we attacked pretty well. I don’t think we shot the ball very well. Normally we shoot a little better than that,” Tobin said of his team’s offensive performance. “We had a couple of good spurts there in the fourth quarter and that was the game.”
Carrollton would force two turnovers in its full-court press with the clock winding down, but failed to score off the turnovers before Mosby scored the dagger on an out-of-bounds play with 35 seconds remaining.
Mosby had 10 in the final quarter and 17 in the game.
The win moves Cartersville to 10-2 on the season after going 2-1 in the Lake City Classic.
“For a third-place game, I thought we had really good effort, really good intensity and they have a really good team,” Tobin said after the game. “We played three really good teams, so I feel like we definitely got some good ones in.”
Cartersville’s next game comes Friday at home against Coahulla Creek on senior night at 7:30 p.m.