Calera squeaks past Shelby County in overtime
Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, December 1, 2015
By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor
COLUMBIANA – Roughly 24 hours after Calera lost by a single point to rival Montevallo at home, the Eagles traveled to Shelby County for another in-county matchup that proved to be just as entertaining. After trailing essentially the entire game, Calera got the better of Shelby County in overtime by a final of 68-65 to secure its third win of the season.
“I feel like I’ve got a very resilient bunch,” Calera head coach George Drake said after the game. “We went down to wire in a rivalry game against Montevallo, so I wasn’t sure how this team was going to respond after giving that type of effort. But that’s something this team can really hang its hat on. They come out here and compete every night. We got guys 1-12 that come out and give it their all.”
Shelby County was without Brandon Green, the Wildcats biggest offensive weapon, for the first time this season. Shelby County head coach Torry Brown said after the game there were some “team issues” that kept Green out of the lineup, and did not provide a timeline for when he might return.
Without the dynamic Green in the lineup, Shelby County relied almost entirely on Quinterrious Montgomery and David Watkins to create offense, which worked well enough for most of the game. No one for either Shelby County or Calera shot the ball particularly well all night, and both offenses were happy taking what they could get for most of the game.
The Wildcats held a slight 16-15 lead after the first quarter of play thanks primarily to Watkins’ 10 first quarter points. Calera had more size than Shelby County at just about every position except for center, where Watkins’ 6-foot-5-inch frame was able to go to work. Montgomery or a handful of other Shelby County guards time and again waited until Watkins had his defender pinned on his hip on the low block, and then lobbed a pass over the outstretched hands of the sealed defender, allowing Watkins a number of easy buckets as the Eagles helpside defense was slow to rotate time and again early in the game.
Tyler Millin scored all of his 11 points in the first half to keep Calera close, and after going into the half down 32-29, Calera played Shelby County dead even in the third quarter and went into the final period in regulation down 42-39.
Calera pressed the Wildcats the entire game, and crashed the offensive boards hard all night too, which created a fast-paced, sometimes out of control contest. In the midst of the chaos, the Eagles were able to gobble up a large number of offensive boards throughout the night but rarely were able to convert those opportunities into points, as they missed a bevvy of put back shots. However, down 54-48 with the minutes ticking down in the fourth quarter, Calera found its offensive touch.
After OJ Williams helped pull the Eagles back to within two points at 54-52, Watkins was fouled and connected on one of two foul shots to extend the lead back to three points. Williams then was able to get to the bucket and draw a foul with less than half a minute left in regulation. After hitting his free throw and tying the game at 55 apiece, Calera had three opportunities to win the game in regulation before the teams headed to extra basketball.
Williams connected on a pair of free throws early in the overtime period to give Calera a slight lead and a nice putback bucket put the Eagles up four. Montgomery, who played every second of the game for the Wildcats, put Shelby County on his back in the overtime period, especially after Watkins fouled out, and scored eight of Shelby County’s 10 overtime points. It was in a losing effort however, as Calera’s superior size and press proved to be enough of a difference maker in overtime as the Eagles won by three.
“(Rebounding) is something that we’ve been preaching in practice,” Drake said after the game. “Really to go and get boards. What I tell them on the road is there are two things that must be a must to win, and that’s make your free throws and rebound.
“It was a good game,” Brown said after the game. “Both teams gave maximum effort, both teams laid it all out on the line tonight, unfortunately we came up three points short. Both sides played really hard, but you got to give them credit, they played well, got a lot of buckets inside. It just didn’t fall for us tonight.”
There were 52 fouls called on the night, which was in part due to the frantic pace of the game and in part due to some quick whistles. Watkins led the way for Shelby County with 22 points while Montgomery had 21. Yatil Gant led Calera with 16.