Basketball is a game of momentum, Commerce players said. They know they have to play well continuously in order to make the necessary run at Region 8-A.
“It has been kind of a shaky season in that we might score 60-70 points one night and the next 40-50 tops,” junior Robert Hayes said. “But it all comes down to who gets rolling at the region tournament…That’s what’s so great about the game. What matters is who’s making the run at the end.”
Commerce (9-8, 5-3) worked Monday to recover mentally from a disappointing week in which the Tigers were outgunned by Athens Christian, 77-46, and dropped a heartbreaker to Athens Academy.
The team’s 57-56 loss to the Spartans came in overtime and at home. The difference in the outcome stemmed mainly from the Tigers’ overall breakdown at the foul line.
As a team CHS converted 44 percent of its total free throws, making just 11 of 25 shots taken.
One Athens Academy player alone matched the output. Freshman Eric Williams scored 11 of his 13 free throw attempts en route to a game-leading 33-point performance the Tigers’ could not stop.
“We didn’t make free throws at the end and they did,” Hayes said. “The other plan had been to shut out No. 4 (Williams). We didn’t.”
The lapse at the line, especially, was a focus for coach Chad Bridges. His intensity at practice on Monday underscored his disappointment in the group with its lackluster execution of the basics.
Timed, baseline-to-baseline sprints were the fallout when the starters failed to string together upwards of 75 percent of every 26 shots taken as a group, one player explained.
Sure, that may seem tough, but so is the region, Bridges said, referring to the Athens Christian (15-2, 8-0) rout over Commerce last week.
The coach would like to see his team take more losses to heart, so players can use that emotion as fuel to drive them forward.
Players seemed to understand.
“A loss like that (to Athens Academy) really wants to make you get better,” said junior Thomas McMillan.
He mentioned his own failures on Friday as an example. Though he led the team in scoring with 23 points, McMillan fouled out and, like his teammates, struggled with free throws.
“I have to get smarter so the next time I get in that situation it will be a better (outcome),”
This week, Commerce is scheduled to play George Walton Academy on Tuesday (results unavailable at press time), Hebron Christian Academy on Friday and East Jackson on Saturday.
After that, just three more games remain on the regular season schedule, with every one of them factored into the region tournament seeding.
“We want to win every game we can,” Hayes said. “The bigger thing is as long as we are all on one page, in the same direction at the end of the season, we have a chance.”
Tuesday, Jan. 17
Athens Christian 77, Commerce 46
Score by quarter
Scorers— CHS, Thomas McMillan 11, Chase Kugh 5, Jonathan Book 11, Tony Patan 6, Robert Hayes 13; AC, Adrian Landon 17, Zack Resop 9, Zach Lillie 21, Demetrius McWhorter 2, Turtle Jackson 20, Tae Carruth 8.
Friday, Jan. 20
Athens Academy 57, Commerce 56 (OT)
Score by quarter
Scorers—CHS, Thomas McMillan 23, Chase Klugh 8, Jonathan Book 6, Chandler Rogers 2, Tyre Treadwell 2, Tony Patman 6, Keenan Lord 3, Robert Hayes 6; AA, Marrquez Terrell 6, Eric Williams 33, Adam Granger 3, P.J. Blaesing 6, Mason Malldry 5, Will Cox 4.
• 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27, CHS hosts Hebron Christian Academy
• 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, CHS at East Jackson
• 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, CHS at Riverside
• 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, CHS hosts Lakeview
• 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, CHS hosts Towns Co.