Calhoun beats East, moves closer to district title
BY WILL BROWN - WBROWN@VICAD.COM
Feb. 1, 2013 at 11:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 31, 2013 at 8:01 p.m.
PORT LAVACA - Aaron Anderson told Calhoun before Friday's game that they had a chance to write their own destiny.
They made sure to seize it.
Calhoun's claim for a second straight District 30-4A championship moved closer to reality after Friday's 42-38 victory over East.
Though East clawed into the game in the fourth quarter, the reigning district champions (21-9, 9-1) avenged their only district loss, while also moving closer to the crown they covet.
"I told them we write our own destiny from here. It's all in our hands. What we want to do with it is all up to us," said Calhoun head coach Aaron Anderson when asked what he told his team at halftime.
"I know we had dreams and aspirations at the beginning of the year. I always tell them 'In order for us to achieve the goals that we've set out, we have to defend home court.' They took care of home when we went there and I said 'We have to take care of home here.'"
Victoria East (14-15, 4-5) entered the game on its first three-game district winning streak of the season.
More importantly for the Titans, two of those wins came in District 30-4A play. It's a feat that got them back into the playoff race with four games remaining.
Freshman Garrett LaVergne, who was recently moved up to the varsity squad, made one of two free throws with three seconds left in the second quarter to allow the teams to head to the locker room tied 23-23.
His only point of the game ended a half where neither team led by more than three points.
Things would open up in the third quarter, however.
"In the first half we didn't do so well with their 2-3 zone," said Calhoun guard Ryan Jackson. "In the third quarter we picked it up and obeyed our assignments."
Despite leading scorer Isaac Cardona entering the second half in foul trouble, the Sandcrabs smaller starters, Jackson and Jason Alonzo, stepped up.
Jackson scored 10 of his 14 points in the third quarter, while Alonzo sparked the crowd with a pair of energetic plays, including a no-look pass that gave Calhoun a 32-25 lead..
Alonzo's pass was right into the hands of Walter Carr who deftly laid it up with 3:25 remaining. The senior guard capped off an 11-2 run for his team when he forced a steal and converted the layup with 59 seconds left in the third.
"Jason and I have been playing together since seventh grade," Jackson said. "The chemistry is there. We want this bad. We want the district championship bad."
East wanted it as well.
Jackson said the two schools typically play tight encounters because the players have been battling under the boards since they were in middle school.
Xavier Ellis and Trevon Ramey both scored nine points for Victoria East. Ellis, who scored a career high 24 points against Corpus Christi John Paul II Tuesday night, scored seven of his points in the second quarter.
Trailing 41-38, Ramey disposed of Cardona with 51 seconds left to set up a dramatic finish.
Afterwards, East coach John Grammer said he did not plan to call timeout or wait for the final shot.
"I really wanted us to attack," Grammer said. "We got a pretty good shot, we just missed it."
East went inside to Ellis with 20 seconds remaining, but a pair of Sandcrabs were there at the basket to deny the entry pass.
Calhoun took over, but the Titans had one more opportunity.
"I'm proud of our guys for battling until the end," Grammer said. "We got down (12 points) at the end of the third and we battled back. We had a chance."
Jackson was at the free throw line for Calhoun in a 41-38 game with less than 15 seconds remaining. Before he cocked and fired, someone from the East bench yelled "who's got the shooter" because it was a one-and-one.
Jackson didn't win the offensive rebound, but Cardona did. That effectively ended the game and the Titans three-game winning streak.
"I've labeled those three our tri-captains for this year," Anderson said. "I told them 'Guys there are going to be a lot of games down the line, down the stretch, that we can't depend on Isaac to do everything. You guys are going to have to be able to step up and shoulder the load and shoulder the load for some of the things he can't do.'
"I asked them to allow him to lean on you some and not so much everyone leaning on him. They stepped into that role tonight and fulfilled their duties as captains. It helped us get the 'W' we needed."