Ryan Chambless did just that with Class 4A Jacksonville’s boys after a rugged first quarter against scrappy Class 1A foe Faith Christian in Monday’s Calhoun County Tournament action, and the Golden Eagles got the message.
Cam Horton scored 18 points, and Tay Ackles added 16 as Jacksonville advanced 70-50 in Jacksonville State’s Pete Mathews Coliseum.
The Golden Eagles (14-6) will play Alexandria in Thursday’s 5:30 p.m. quarterfinal, and Jacksonville knows it can’t start like it did against Faith.
“We played like not ourselves,” Horton said, “and that can’t happen.”
Faith Christian (7-12) opened strong, taking a 14-3 lead on Jordan Griswould’s old-fashioned three-point play. Then Jacksonville drew a technical foul because C.C. Ryan wasn’t listed in the official scorebook, resulting in four Faith points and an 18-3 lead.
It was 20-3 at the end of the first quarter.
“I thought we ran the offense like they’re supposed to, and they handled the press pretty well, too,” Faith coach Jeff Musser said.
Chambless had had enough. Before the first quarter ended, he sat his starting lineup and played his younger players for a stretch.
“The first quarter, we came out extremely lethargic, and Faith Christian whipped our tails,” he said. “Faith Christian came out ready to play, and we didn’t. They outhustled us from the get-go on defense and offense. Anything you could draw up, they outhustled us, and that’s all there was to it.”
Things changed after Chambless put his starters back in the game.
Jacksonville cranked up its press and pace and outscored Faith 32-14 in the second quarter, with Horton’s 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer giving the Golden Eagles their first lead, 35-34.
Jacksonville won the second and third quarters by a combined 49-18 and the final three quarters 67-30.
“I think that they realized that they were Jacksonville, and we’re Faith Christian” said Josiah McDaniel, Faith’s leading scorer with 16 points.
Ackles had the hottest hand in the second half, hitting four straight spot-up 3-pointers from the left side. Jacksonville hit seven of 14 treys for the game.
Sid Thurmond added 12 points and a team-high five assists, and a team-high eight rebounds helped Jackson Bell score 10.
Now, Jacksonville looks toward its fourth crack at Alexandria this season. The Valley Cubs won the first three, so don’t expect a lethargic start for Jacksonville.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times, let alone four,” Horton said. “We’re going to give everything we’ve got, like it’s the area championship game.”
Sports columnist Joe Medley: 256-235-3576, email@example.com. On Twitter @jmedley_star.