The senior forward scored the Trojans’ first 13 points of the contest and poured in 23 of his game-high 26 points in the first half, helping Carrollton build a 43-16 halftime advantage and run away with the one-sided victory to improve to 1-1 on the young season.
“We needed that. We struggled offensively the other night. We talked about understanding our roles and who we needed to get shots with. Once we got some early buckets, I think everybody loosened up and played a lot better offensively,” noted Carrollton coach Tim Criswell.
The Trojans were able to clear the bench and get a lot of different guys playing time on Tuesday, something Tim Criswell said is important moving forward with so much varsity inexperience on the roster.
Cedartown (0-5) has endured its own share of growing pains early in the year under Bulldog coach Benji Frazier, who lost eight seniors to graduation.
“So he’s got a real young team. Our team’s not as young, but it’s still relatively inexperienced. Any kind of games we can play are valuable to us,” Tim Criswell said. “We obviously got a big margin of victory [Tuesday]. But it’s like I told the guys, I’m not concerned about winning or losing right now. I’m worried about doing the things we’re coaching them to do in practice every day. If we stay with that mindset, I feel like we’ll get better.”
Along with his 26-point effort, Riley Criswell also pulled down 10 rebounds and had a pair of rim-rocking dunks, as did fellow senior forward Byron McCall, who finished with nine points and seven rebounds.
K.J. Hill had a solid night off the bench for the Trojans, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds, while Jarrel Boone added seven points and Dontae Bonner posted six points.
Senior point guard Javarious Jackson had an outstanding night facilitating the offense, finishing with five points, seven rebounds and 10 assists. Carrollton had just eight turnovers as a team on Tuesday night, as well.
“[Jackson] found some guys. You know, he struggled a little bit the other night, maybe trying to do a little bit too much. And that’s understandable. He’s a senior and he wants to do well,” Tim Criswell said. “I felt like [Tuesday] he was a little more in control and found some people. He made some really nice looks. When he’s doing that — and he’s a good shooter, too — he’s big for us.”
Exzavier Pace scored all 14 of his points in the first half to lead Cedartown offensively.
Carrollton remains at home to play host to Rome on Saturday in a 4:30 p.m. contest.
“I’m sure they’ll be athletic, like usual. We’ll get a couple of more days of practice in, which will help us. We’ll see how it goes. We feel like we’re on the right track now. We’ve just got to keep grinding,” Tim Criswell said.
Carrollton girls 82, Cedartown 8: The Lady Trojans (2-0) didn’t have any trouble with the Lady Bulldogs (0-5), forcing turnovers on Cedartown’s first 11 possessions of the game and not allowing the visitors to even attempt a field goal until the 2:12 mark of the first quarter.
And while the game was never competitive, Carrollton coach Shon Thomaston did what he could to try and not let it get too out of hand against a Cedartown program that is enduring a rebuilding situation.
“You know, we don’t play much zone, but honestly I kind of like the fact that we had to work on some zone, just out of respect of coaches and kids and things of that nature. I’ve been in those shoes before where I didn’t have a very good team early on in my career and I was trying to build a program,” Thomaston said. “I had to learn through some coaches actually taking advantage of me and not going to a 2-3 zone when I had kids that struggled with fundamentals. But I’m not the type of person that’s going be like, ‘OK. It happened to me, so I’m going to make it happen to you.’”
Carrollton placed four scorers in double figures, with senior center Taylor Love leading the charge with 21 points, including knocking down her first 10 attempts of the ball game. Following Love was senior guard Kenyata Hendrix with 18 points and nine steals, senior forward Tasmine Boykin with 14 points and six steals and sophomore guard Alecia North with 12 points and six steals. Sophomore guard Faith Swint also had a nice all-around game, posting five points with eight assists and three steals. Freshman guard Malaria Ranson added four points, four steals and three assists.
The Lady Trojans return to action on Saturday at 3 p.m. when Rome (3-4) comes to town for what Thomaston anticipates to be more of a battle for his ball club.
“I guarantee you, the scoreboard won’t look like that. They’re going to be athletic and they’re going to be a pressing team. They’re going to make us do some things that may make us uncomfortable at times. That’s what I want my kids to be. I want them to be uncomfortable, so I can see how they’ll react,” Thomaston said.
Carrollton JV boys 80, Cedartown 36: Jarel Rowe and Willie Byrd each scored 20 points to lead the Trojans, who broke the game open with a 33-point first quarter on Tuesday.