COLD SPRINGS —
Cold Springs looked pretty cozy last week at Wallace State’s Tom Drake Coliseum. However, there’s just no place like home like Jesse George Gymnasium for this year’s Eagles.
After trailing by 13 points late in the third quarter, the Blue and Gold took a page out of their county championship-clinching comeback, downright dominating Walker in the final frame to secure an electrifying 78-71 triumph on Thursday night.
The win not only avenged a 14-point defeat to the Class 5A Vikings last month but kept 2A Cold Springs (17-9) perfect on its home court this season.
It quickly became apparent the rematch was going to come down to which squad made the last run. The Eagles made sure it was them, closing the contest on a 30-10 tear going back to their double-digit deficit near the end of the third quarter.
Josh Freeman scored 10 of his 23 points during the game-winning outburst, which also included contributions from Layne Rice, Triston Chambers, Tyler Rice and Austin Moore.
The Blue and Gold were sensational from the charity stripe in the second half, sinking 17 of 19 attempts.
“The thing that’s great about this basketball team is they will not give up,” an exasperated Cold Springs coach Tim Willoughby said shortly after the victory. “They’re going to fight until the end, and they’re going to believe they can win the games. This is a pretty good team we beat tonight. I’m really pleased.”
Aaron Morris tickled the twine with five first-quarter 3’s and seven overall — Willoughby said it “seemed like he had 700” — en route to a 23-point outing. Dawson Salors, who made four of the Vikings’ 16 total treys — added 14 points.
As hot as the visitors were from behind the arc in the first three quarters, they were anything but late, hitting just two tries in the last eight minutes.
“In that situation, you have to not look at the ball and turn and see the men,” Willoughby said the Eagles’ defensive strategy. “We did a better job of that in the fourth quarter, and we kind of shut down some of that 3-point stuff.”
Sophomores Freeman and Chambers led the way with 23 points apiece, closely trailed by senior Layne Rice with 22. Rice drilled four 3’s, and Chambers, three.
Adam Carney, Tyler Rice and Moore all collected three points. Collin Day had one.
Cold Springs will look to keep the good times rolling Friday at home against Vinemont.
% Cold Springs 68, Walker 41: Someone had to pay for the Lady Eagles’ 20-point loss in last Saturday’s county championship.
Sorry Lady Vikings, but that was you.
Caitlyn Hall flirted with a triple double, and three other players picked up at least 13 points, lifting the 2A No. 3 Blue and Gold to a runaway victory over their 5A foe.
Cold Springs (22-6) opened on a 16-4 frenzy, more than enough to counteract a few iffy offensive stretches scattered throughout the rest of the evening.
“I was kind of worried. It was the first time we played since last Saturday night. I was just kind of hoping to wait and see how they responded,” longtime coach Tammy West said in reference to the Lady Eagles’ disappointing defeat in the county title tilt. “I thought they did well. It seems to be out of their minds. I told them it’s time to focus on the end.”
Hall received that memo loud and clear, making her presence known in the paint with an insane stat-line of 16 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks. Seniors Chloe Harbison and Haley Freeman were also instrumental with 15 and 13 points, respectively.
“She played a really good game tonight,” West said of Hall.
Keegan Johnson put on a show off the bench, draining five 3-pointers — all from the same spot in the left corner — in the second half. The junior was at her best in the fourth quarter, where she nailed four long-range attempts, including three in a row at one point.
Johnson finished with the 15 points, while Emme Willoughby was good for five. McKinnley Davis hustled for three points, and seventh-grade junior varsity call-up Camryn Crider made a late free throw.
Christina Robinson paced Walker with 14 points. Sidney Cooper scored 12.
“We’ve been waiting on Keegan, bless her heart. She has just been so down on herself, so she needed that tonight,” West said of Johnson’s 3-point display. “I know she can hit it, but she puts a lot of pressure on herself. I was proud to see her hit a few shots. Hopefully that will give her some confidence in the postseason.”
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.