November 26, 2020

Sage Kelley sinks game winning 3-pointer to upend Cavs

Coach Akins talks strategy with her girls during Friday night' region win over Callaway

Coach Akins talks strategy with her girls during Friday night’ region win over Callaway

(Franklin, GA) — The largest crowd of fans in almost a decade packed into the Heard County High School gymnasium Friday night to see the resurgent Braves varsity basketball teams in action versus arch rival Callaway High School from Lagrange.

The girls and boys teams delighted those in attendance as each knocked off the Cavaliers to extend winning streaks for both squads to six games.

The victories also moved each team’s record to 16-4 for the season while both also remain undefeated in Region 5-AA at 6-0.

The two wins came in very different ways as the boys cruised to a 53-34 win while the girls had to scratch and claw for a 43-41 win thanks to the heroics of junior point guard Sage Kelley.

Kelley knocked down a long 3-point basket with just under 10 seconds to go in the game to seal the late victory for the Lady Braves. It was Kelley’s fourth make of the night from long range as she finished with 12 points.

Senior Kimberly Harris led the scoring with 13 and sophomore Haley Bennett also scored six on two from downtown.

Junior Emily Iddins again had a nice effort scoring eight including four from the foul line. Iddins was the only Lady Brave to go to the foul line during the entire night.

Neither team could get into a good rhythm early on and the game was tied at 4-4 after the first quarter before the Lady Braves used a strong second quarter run to jump out to a 22-10 halftime lead.

With senior Kimberly Harris in early foul trouble and Hannah Sanders still sidelined by an ankle injury, coach Akins had to rely on her small underclassmen line-up in that second period and they did not disappoint.

The Lady Cavs would bounce back to tie the game at 27-27 after three before the two squads battled to the finish in the fourth quarter.

“It was a lot of pressure so seeing that ball go in made me so happy,” said Kelley about her huge game-winning basket.

Coach Akins was very pleased with the effort of her younger squad that has faced the adversity of dealing with injuries to senior starters Sanders and Alyssa Cosper.

“Those young kids coming in and playing so big in the second quarter when Kimberly got into foul trouble. Couldn’t be more proud of Emily Iddins, Tori Caldwell, and Haley Bennett coming in and making some big shots — and of course Sage Kelley with that big three — that’s who we wanted taking that last shot.”

“Just a huge and very exciting win for us tonight,” said Akins. “I thought the girls did a great job of moving the ball against that zone. We had that streak in the third where we couldn’t knock them down but I thought we played real hard and did a good job defensively tonight which was the big key for us.”

In the boy’s game, Coach Keith Simmons’ squad led basically from wire to wire going up 12-8 after one period and 34-13 at the halftime break.

Senior Jordarius Foster led the way with 16 points followed by Christian Murray with 12 and Dekari Brewer with 11.

The Braves earned the win a little differently than they have of late using the inside game more than relying on the 3-point shots. The team had just one make from long range, scoring the remainder of the points from inside and the free throw line.

The Cavs were short-handed with Braylon Sanders out of the line-up.

“We got off to kind of a slow start but pushing that lead to 22 at the half was big for us. Our guys were energetic tonight and deflecting balls and doing what we do. A lot of our stuff was from the inside tonight where your percentages are much better,” said Simmons.

The first year Brave head coach was also very excited about the huge number of fans that showed up for the game.

“It was such a blessing for our kids to have that big crowd cheering them on tonight,” Simmons said. “It was not only big tonight but is important to help get us ready for playing in front of bigger crowds as we go into the postseason. The energy from a big crowd is a hard thing to mimic.”

Simmons understands that with Sanders back in the line-up that the Cavs will be a much different team if they meet again at the region tourney.

“No doubt those guys are different when he’s in the line-up because he does so many different things well.

Both teams will look to remain hot when they host the Temple Tigers Tuesday night at home (6:00/7:30 PM) as the regular season draws to a close with only four region games remaining before the region tourney.

To see video footage of Sage Kelley’s game winning basket visit The Heard County Brave Nation on Facebook.

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