January 5, 2013

Prep roundup: Cats find rhythm, beat Heritage; girls win, too

CHATSWORTH — It took Dalton High’s boys basketball team nearly a quarter to get things rolling Friday night in its Sub-region 7B-4A opener.

Once the Catamounts took off, though, Heritage-Catoosa did little to counter.

The Cats went on a 10-2 run at the beginning of the second quarter and ran away with a 74-54 win over the Generals at the Cats Den.

In the earlier girls game, the Lady Cats built a 22-point lead midway through the third quarter and held off a late charge by the Lady Generals for a 69-59 win.

Dalton’s boys led 20-16 after the first quarter before settling in for a commanding effort, and coach Mike Duffie wasn’t sure what kept the Cats (10-3) from getting going even earlier.

“I really don’t know why,” coach Mike Duffie said of his team’s slow start. “It wasn’t anything we were doing wrong, we just weren’t making the shots. Early, we forced 10 turnovers in the first 10 possessions and only scored four points. We were just missing. I don’t know if we were trying too hard or what. We’re going to have to get over that.”

Alex Bautista jump-started Dalton’s run in the second quarter with a jumper off the glass in the lane, then followed with a 3-pointer on Dalton’s next possession to build the lead to nine. After a Heritage (5-8, 0-1) layup on the other end, Bautista found teammate Braxton Thomas for an open look on the fast break, resulting in a three-point play to push the edge to 10 with 4:34 to go in the half.

The Cats increased their advantage to 20 by halftime and extended it to 26 by the end of the third quarter. While this was the first league matchup of the season between the two teams, Dalton beat Heritage 77-63 at the Farm Bureau Christmas Classic last month.

“We didn’t really match their intensity very well in the first half and it got out of hand pretty quick on us,” Heritage coach Kevin Terry said. “They changed up the press from last game, and that messed us up a little bit. Credit Dalton for taking us out of it.”

Bautista led all scorers with 23 points, while guard Rico Mears filled up the stat sheet, contributing six points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

Dalton girls 69, Heritage 59: The early game played out very similar to the late contest, as the Lady Cats (11-4, 1-0) took an eight-point lead at halftime and capitalized off Heritage turnovers to extend that margin to 22 points with a little more than three minutes left in the third quarter.

Heritage went on a scoring spurt of its own to cut the lead to 10 with 6:20 left, resulting in a timeout by the Lady Cats.

“I knew we needed to make less turnovers and handle the ball a little bit better,” coach Jeff McKinney said of the Lady Generals’ late run. “We needed to make sure we were guarding the shooters. We made a few adjustments and extended our lead a little bit.”

Following the timeout, Maddie Howell drained a long 3-pointer from the left wing to push Dalton’s lead to 60-47 with 5:35 left. Heritage got no closer than 10 the rest of the way.

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