Calera boys capture area title

Calera High School sophomore guard Deondre Haynes played two spectacular quarters Friday night in the Eagles’ biggest game of the season to date.

Haynes started strong in the first quarter and finished strong in the fourth quarter against visiting Holt. The Eagles needed the big quarters from Haynes as they overcame a four-point deficit in the fourth quarter to claim the Class 4A, Area 7 regular season championship Jan. 22 with a 68-59 win over the Ironmen.

Calera (12-12, 5-1 in Class 4A, Area 7) will host the Area 7 tournament Feb. 5-8, which will be the Eagles’ first time to host an area tournament since 2007.

Haynes scored eight points in the opening quarter and closed his night with 14 points in the final quarter. The 6-foot-3 point guard finished with 31 points in the game after hitting 11-of-16 field goals and 8-of-11 free throws. Haynes also finished with eight assists.

Calera coach Robert Burdette said he expected Haynes to take over after watching him perform at a higher level in the Eagles’ area wins over Bibb County and Jemison within the past two weeks.

“He played with a little more defensive fire,” Burdette said. “He’s just become more active. Hopefully he’s beginning to learn the game is a little easier if we’re making plays on defense.”

Haynes did have some help. Ronnie Clark chipped in 16 points and Jeremy Hyde finished with 11 points.

The first quarter was all about the sophomore, though, as Haynes had two rim-rattling dunks and two eye-catching assists in the first two minutes to help the Eagles begin the game with an 8-0 run.

Calera turned up the heat early on and Haynes finished with eight points as the Eagles raced out to a 25-10 lead after the first quarter.

“We started out hot and shocked them a little bit,” Burdette said.

Holt steadily climbed back into the game, outscoring the Eagles 23-14 in the second quarter to cut the Calera lead to 39-33 at halftime. The Ironmen held Haynes to only five points in the second quarter.

The third quarter was the same story, as the Ironmen chipped away at the deficit and took their first lead of the game at 47-46 on a layup with 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter.

“(Holt) kept plugging away and we got out of our press,” Burdette said.

Holt extended its lead to 54-50 midway through the fourth quarter before Calera turned up the defensive intensity again, which allowed Haynes to take over. Haynes scored six points as the Eagles went on an 8-2 run to take a 58-56 lead following his two free throws with 3:02 left in the game.

Holt cut the lead to 58-57 with a free throw before Haynes rebounded his own miss and put it back to push the lead back to 60-57. After the Ironmen cut the lead to 62-59, Haynes scored a basket to push the lead to the lead back to five with 1:20 remaining. Calera held Holt without a point after Haynes’ layup and fans rushed the court as time expired.

“We went back to our press (in the fourth quarter),” Burdette said. “It turned them over and we got some easy baskets. We let (Haynes) play a little one-on-one. The clock started running down and they didn’t take care of the basketball. That gave us some opportunities.”

Burdette said he’s glad the Eagles won’t be traveling for the Area 7 tournament, but he doesn’t expect an easy path to the tournament championship.

“You’re always at an advantage when you’re playing at home,” Burdette said. “But just because we’re at home doesn’t mean its automatic. We’ve got three outstanding teams coming in.”