Therefore, it says a lot about how far the young Excel Christian Academy boys basketball team has come already this season that the Eagles took Trion to overtime in a 73-71 loss Friday night at Excel.
“Being mostly a young team, it’s something that we can build on and learn from. Obviously, I’m a little disappointed in the result, but that’s what makes us better down the road,” Excel head coach Chad Parker said. “All we can ask for is to be in it and we were in it. It was just a great game and learning experience. That’s what we’re focusing on, letting it motivate us to get better and knowing that we can play with anybody.”
After a back-and-forth first quarter, Excel went to a box-and-one defense in the second quarter on Trion’s talented center Isaac Thomas. The move worked as Excel went on a 19-3 run in the last six minutes of the half after falling behind by 11 in the second quarter.
As a result, the Eagles led 30-25 at halftime.
“They have a great player. We went to the box-and-one and started playing the big guy well,” Parker said of the second-quarter run. “They just got cold and we got hot. We were attacking the basket a little bit more instead of settling for jump shots and got real aggressive. We got a little momentum and we rode it all the way to halftime.”
Parker took the box-and-one off in the third quarter and Trion went on a run thanks to Thomas. Trion’s big man scored eight of the first 10 points in the third quarter and was able to take the lead back heading into the fourth, 45-41.
Excel was able to eliminate Trion’s four-point advantage less than three minutes into the fourth when Kory Tucker scored four straight points.
The two teams then traded baskets down the stretch.
Excel then took a 60-58 lead on a clutch 3 from the top of the key by Caleb West with two minutes remaining in the game.
Once again, Excel was able to take Thomas out of the game with its box-and-one defense, limiting him to just two points in the fourth quarter.
“We went box-and-one the whole fourth quarter. We couldn’t do that the whole game but we frustrated him enough,” Parker said. “The biggest thing is we made the other guys play. It totally took him out of the game. And that’s what I focus on. If you take their best payer out of the game, it makes it a lot tougher on them.”
Trion’s Kaleb Stoner took the opportunity to step up and scored on his team’s next possession to tie the game with one minute left.
Tucker responded for Excel with a baseline drive soon after to give Excel the lead once again with 40 seconds remaining.
Stoner then had the biggest hoop of the night for Trion as his offensive putback tied the game with 30 seconds on the game clock.
Excel was unable to score on the final possession, and the game went into overtime.
In the extra period, the two teams continued their back-and-forth affair until Stoner was able to finally give Trion a two-possession lead with another offensive rebound and putback to make the score 68-64. Stoner then scored two possessions later to make the score 70-64 in Trion’s favor.
Stoner finished with 23 points, 19 in the second half and overtime.
As was the case the entire game, Excel fought back from the deficit to trail by just two points with 21 seconds left.
However, two costly turnovers by Excel and some made free throws by Trion gave the visiting team an insurmountable 73-68 edge with 6.8 seconds remaining.
“We played the whole second half pretty well,” Parker said of the game. “We had a couple of chances to win. I’m disappointed we didn’t, but you can’t ask for a better effort.”
Kory Tucker led the way for Excel with his 19 points. Darius Thrower added 17 points and seven rebounds while Jack Bower earned himself a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.
Excel is now 5-10 on the season and 1-2 in the region. The Eagles will move on to face Mount Zion, Carroll today on the road at 3 p.m.
Adairsville 53, Sonoraville 32
The Tigers were able to pick up their seventh win of the season Friday night at home as they defeated Sonoraville to the delight of the home crowd.
“It’s a great win for us,” Adairsville assistant coach Lee Whitaker said. “It was a great crowd. There was a lot of good energy and we played off that and played pretty well.”
Dametrices Pitt led the way with 16 points and eight rebounds while Marcus Childers added nine points and four steals.
The Tigers are now 7-5 on the season and 3-2 in Region 5-AAA. They will play Woodland today on the road.
Cartersville 72, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 53
According to Cartersville head coach Mike Tobin, the Purple Hurricanes played one of their worst games of the season Friday night at LFO, but still managed to pull out the victory.
“They played with enthusiasm and energy and we didn’t for three quarters,” Tobin said of the game. “In the fourth quarter we were able to turn it on.”
Corey Tobin led Cartersville with 22 points, while A.J. Mosby had 17 and Ryan Davis had 16.
Cartersville is now 13-2, 5-0 in region play, and will face Cass today on the road at 7:30 p.m.
Cass 66, Cedartown 51
The Colonels continued their hot play of late as they defeated Cedartown Friday night at home thanks to a strong start to the game.
Cass outscored Cedartown in each quarter and was able to hold onto its lead and have now won seven of the last nine games the team has played.
Keylon Woodard led Cass in points with 14 while Jordan Morning and Justin Reed each scored in double figure with 12 and 11, respectively.
The Colonels will welcome Cartersville to Cass High Saturday and are now 7-10 on the season and 1-1 in region play.