Colonels fall to Titans in region tourney semifinals

By NICHOLAS SULLIVAN
Posted 2/17/21

For the Blessed Trinity boys basketball team, The Storm Center has lived up to its name, offering the Titans a safe haven the past week. As for Cass, the gym of rival Cartersville High continues to …

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Colonels fall to Titans in region tourney semifinals

Posted

For the Blessed Trinity boys basketball team, The Storm Center has lived up to its name, offering the Titans a safe haven the past week. As for Cass, the gym of rival Cartersville High continues to be a house of horrors.

Facing off in the Region 7-AAAAA tournament semifinals, the top-seeded Colonels were held to their lowest point total of the season in a 50-44 loss to the No. 5 seed Titans.

“They rebounded the snot out of the ball on the offensive end,” Cass head coach Sean Glaze said of Blessed Trinity. “I think we gave up a total of about 13 or 14 offensive rebounds tonight. I don’t think we had a very disciplined game offensively. We had some wasted possessions where we didn’t really work for looks and seemed impatient.

“If you had asked me coming into the game, I would have thought we were prepared. I thought we had a really good pregame [Tuesday] and [Wednesday]. Sometimes, you just don’t perform with the sharpness that you expect.”

Late in the first quarter, the Colonels, who won both regular-season meetings, seemed to be in control. A 15-7 lead, though, turned into a 26-21 halftime deficit. After scoring the first five points out of the locker room to even things up, Cass only held a slight overall edge in the third quarter to enter the final period down 36-32.

One of the key factors that hindered the Colonels was Braxton Benham’s foul trouble. The senior operates as Cass’ primary ballhandler and best on-ball defender. Saddled with three fouls in the first half and a fourth early in the third quarter, Benham’s extended absence left the Colonels without one of their three first-team all-region players for a significant portion of the game.

“Anyone who has watched us play this year understands how good Braxton is for us,” Glaze said. “Him picking up that third foul pretty early was tough. But we have other guys who are comfortable in that role. …

“We just didn’t execute. That’s something we’ll have to do going forward, because we’re going to have guys who get hurt or get into foul trouble. We want to make sure we respond when those moments occur.”

Zaylan Chaney did his best to step into the void. Another first-team performer, Chaney posted a double-double for Cass with 19 points, including eight in the fourth quarter, and 10 rebounds.

Even still, the Colonels never could tie the game down the stretch. Their last chance at salvaging the contest quickly came and went, as Cass missed a wide-open 3-pointer with roughly 30 seconds left that would have knotted the score at 47-all.

Region player of the year Jax Bouknight closed out the game by hitting 3 of 4 foul shots in the final 20 seconds. The senior finished with a game-high 23 points and four makes from deep. Over the past seven days, Bouknight has racked up 71 points and buried 16 treys in three games at The Storm Center.

Meanwhile, the Colonels fell to 0-2 this season in the building, having lost a 54-53 heartbreaker last month to the Canes on a late 3 by Robert Novak.

With the result, Blessed Trinity and Cass have identical 18-7 record. However, the Titans will be the ones hosting a Class 5A state playoff game in the first round, while the Colonels now are going to have to hit the road.

“We have to walk a tougher path,” Glaze admitted, “but what we want is ultimately still ahead of us.”

Each team will learn its opening-round opponent Friday.

In the title game, Blessed Trinity will face No. 3 seed Calhoun, with the winner meeting up with Chapel Hill in the state tournament and the loser opening against Lithia Springs.

Earlier in the day, Cass will match up with second-seeded Hiram — a team the Colonels beat three times during the regular season — in hopes of earning a date with former region rival Villa Rica and avoiding Region 6-AAAAA champion New Manchester.

“We want to get back to winning basketball,” Glaze said, looking ahead to the third-place game. “Get back to defending and rebounding like we can and getting good possessions offensively, making sure we get great looks.

“Those were things, unfortunately, we didn’t execute as well tonight. Good teams make you pay, and from here on forward, they’re all going to be good teams. We’ve got to continue to learn to be a little bit sharper, but we’ve got guys who can do that.”