By Gaylen Duskey|
Imagine a coach telling his team not to worry about the score of the game -- winning or losing - but that's exactly what Calhoun Coach Danny Bunch did.
He instead asked his team to cut their turnovers setting 20 as a goal for the Red Devils to stay at or below. The team met his goal by turning the ball over 13 times.
Add in the six steals the Eagles had and the total of times the Red Devils gave the ball away was 19, less than half what they had (40 turnovers and steals combined) in the first meeting between the two teams.
Yet the very talented and highly ranked Class AA Eagles still posted a 62-42 victory over the winless Class A Red Devils Friday night at the Braxton County Armory.
While some of the closeness of the game may have been that the Eagles were looking ahead to Saturday's game against the fifth-ranked Oak Hill Red Devils, a lot of it must be attributed to a disciplined and determined effort by Calhoun.
Braxton coach Rick Frame had planned on giving his starters as much of a rest as possible before the big Saturday game with reason since the first time Calhoun played the Eagles it suffered a 78-25 shellacking that was basically over when Braxton took a 27-6 first quarter edge en route to a 44-11 halftime advantage.
But the Eagles weren't able to put things in cruise control after a missed Calhoun shot at the buzzer is the only thing that kept the Red Devils from being on top at the end of one quarter.
Braxton was ahead by only one, 13-12, forcing the Eagles to play the starters longer.
In the second period Braxton did get some breathing room and took a 37-20 halftime edge.
Yet that breathing room was quickly pared keeping the starters in the game even longer. It took a spurt near the end of the quarter to give the Eagles sufficient breathing room to go with the players on the bench.
While not without a much stronger challenge than the Eagles expected they were able to take a tentative grip on the game midway through the first half behind the shooting of Jordan Coen, who had a game high 20 points on five three point goals.
His long range bombing - four treys before intermission - combined with the Eagles uncanny ability at the foul line - 12 of 14 in the first half - proved the difference.
Also the Red Devils helped out a big by being an icy four of 12 from the free throw line, one of the few things about the game that bothered Bunch.
"That and missing lay ups," he said.
Calhoun, 0-14, had a balanced scoring attack with Mason Sheldon leading the way with nine points. Ryan Slider chipped in with eight while Ricky Hall, Tyler Gerwig and Caleb Schoolcraft all added five.
Trent Phillips added four and Luke Moore three for the Red Devils while Ray Davis, Lucas Wilson, Derek Dawson and Sam Brady all played but did not score.
For Braxton, 10-2, Coen was the only player to score in double figures. He was backed by Easton Hutton with nine, Jordan Lacy and Zach Nibert with eight each, Derek Bonnette and Ronnie Cottrell with four each, Joe Wilfong and Austin Rhodes with three each, Cody Hilton with two and Yannick Yewawa with one. Ryan Hart and Danny Westfall both played but did not score.
Calhoun held a slight edge on the boards - 40-32 - with Gerwig and Sheldon getting eight each and Phillips six. Calhoun also had a slight edge in assists - 8-5 - with Sheldon and Moore leading the way with two each.
The junior varsity game was also a hard win for the Eagles, 48-27.
After a icy first quarter (Braxton led 6-1) the two teams battled it out the rest of the way with the more veteran Eagles slowly pulling away.
Wilson led Calhoun, 0-10, with 12 points while Tyler Tanner and William Baker added five each. Gerwig had three and Zach Thomas two. Brady, Kameron Carder, Dawson, Luke Sheldon, Dustin Turner and Nick Watkins all played but did not score.
While Brady did not score he nonetheless turned in a strong performance especially on defense before fouling out of the game in the fourth quarter.
Calhoun out rebounded Braxton with Wilson and Thomas leading the way with eight each and Gerwig getting seven despite playing only one quarter.
Baker had two of Calhoun's four assists in this game to lead the way.
Calhoun returns to action Wednesday night at Gilmer County. There will be no junior varsity game.