It had been over a month since the Callisburg Wildcats played in a tight game, but Wednesday, Feb. 24, in the Class 3A area round, Rains put them to the test from start to finish.
Callisburg was outscored by two points in the second half, but a critical second-quarter spurt for the Wildcats was the difference as they held a 21-11 edge that led to a 58-45 victory.
“They’re the type of team that plays hard and physical,” Callisburg head coach Shad Reed said. “They’ve got a really, really good guard that scored 21 points on us. Their other guards didn’t score a whole lot, but they did a good job of penetrating. They forced us to go man in the second quarter after hurting our zone in the first. We extended our lead to 15 at halftime and the second quarter was the key to the game.”
Reed said he knew Rains would adjust in the third quarter. It did so by outscoring Callisburg 12-7.
“We started in man in the third and their guy had eight points in the third,” Reed said. “We switched back to our 2-3 zone and finished it out that way. We struggled to score in the third. Landon [Condiff] wasn’t on from the perimeter. He was 14-of-19 of the free-throw line. We talked about it midway through the third about his shots not falling and him needing to get to the rim. He got tired. He had to go the whole game.”
Condiff finished the game with 26 points on the night, which by his standards would be considered an “off” game. Still, he kept his teammates involved and kept an aggressive attitude toward the basket.
“He matures every game,” Reed said. “He understands the deeper we get, the tougher it’s going to get on him. I told him he’s a double-double guy and at the first of the year, he wasn’t getting rebounds like he should, but he’s doing the little things and defending their best player. He’s averaging a double-double in the playoffs. We’re also getting that complimentary scoring, but for us to be successful, he’s got to score.”
Along with Jessie Klein’s eight points, Ian Green had 12 points, but eight of them came in the first quarter. Reed said Green was integral to the team’s success Wednesday.
“The guy that got us going early was Ian Green,” Reed said. “I always tell the guys that somebody has to step up and he had eight of our 16 points. He finished with three blocks and took a charge. I thought he was a difference maker in the game.”
It was physical all game long, Reed said, and he was “very proud” of how the team maintained its composure.
“Their guys got some technicals and I told them that it speaks volumes for them not buying into that playoff atmosphere,” Reed said. “Rains plays hard. They’re like a Whitesboro. They’re really physical kids and they wear on you. I looked up in the third quarter and we were dead tired and that’s because we were working so hard to rebound and score.”
Callisburg held off Rains with a 14-11 fourth quarter and bounced back from a quick Rains run.
“We were up 12 and they scored and jumped on us in full court,” Reed said. “We turned it over and they got an easy layup. Then they had a four-point swing to cut it to eight points, but that was as close as they got. They called a timeout and I don’t know why because they had all the momentum. Colby Montgomery came in and handled the ball well and hit two free throws to put us back up 10. I felt like that kind of broke their back.”
The Wildcats, which moved to 28-0 with the victory, will face the winner of No. 1 ranked Dallas Madison and Commerce on Saturday, Feb. 27.
“Madison is obviously the favorite,” Reed said. “If you catch them on an off night and the ball bounces your way, then you might can win. It’s been a tough road to get here. Honestly, I don’t care who we play. We have to do what we do to be successful. We’re going to have a really good game no matter who it is because it’s in the third round of the playoffs.”
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