By JOEL COLEMAN
COLUMBUS – With just over 3 minutes left in the third quarter of East Webster's game against Calhoun City on Friday, Wolverines point guard Ledrick Patterson dribbled the ball past midcourt, picked it up and held it.
For the next 120 seconds, the only thing that moved was the game clock.
"It was one of those nights," said East Webster head coach Corey Stidham. "(Calhoun City) was hitting everything and we couldn't get a shot to fall. Give them credit, they're good. No doubt about it."
East Webster, who already trailed 54-29 when the contest came to a standstill, was ultimately defeated by the Wildcats 73-43 at West Lowndes High School in the second round of the Region 2, Class 2A Tournament.
Calhoun City (19-10) advanced to today's 8:30 p.m. tourney championship game against the winner of Friday's late matchup between West Lowndes and Bruce.
East Webster (15-12) will play the loser of the West Lowndes-Bruce contest in a consolation game at 5:30 p.m. today.
Regardless of today's outcome, the Wolverines are already assured of a berth in the North Class 2A playoffs, which begin next week, courtesy of the team's first-round win over Hamilton on Tuesday.
With today's game in mind and a spot in the postseason already secured, Stidham said there was no reason to press the issue with his team down big on Friday.
Thus came his directive for the East Webster offense to simply let game time tick away.
"We were down by a big deficit and I just saw it was going to take too much energy for us to go," said Stidham. "We knew we had to come back and play (today).
"If you told me we were going to be down by 20-plus points, I'd say our odds weren't too good. We just went to save our legs for (tonight). We knew this was a back-to-back night deal and just went ahead and decided we'd focus on the next game."
Calhoun City made Stidham's decision easy. The Wildcats jumped out to an 18-10 lead after the first quarter and stretched their advantage to 42-26 by halftime.
Dominique Cook led a balanced Calhoun City offensive attack with 14 total points, all 14 coming in the first two quarters.
"(Calhoun City) was quick and just took control," said East Webster's Miguel Graham. "They came out early and hit their shots and put us down."
Things didn't improve much for East Webster after the intermission.
Calhoun City began the second half with a 12-3 run that essentially forced Stidham and the Wolverines to pack it in and prepare for today.
Wildcats head coach Daren Coffey was thrilled his team was able to get the game to that point.
"We had a couple days off this week and have just been practicing really hard," said Coffey. "We had fresh legs up under us so we came out with a lot of intensity up and down the floor and had a good defensive game out there.
"We used our press to get the (East Webster) offense disoriented and did a good job."
That defense stymied the Wolverines.
Graham and Patterson combined for 32 of East Webster's 43 total points.
Graham finished with a game-high 17 points while Patterson tallied 15.
"We tried to come back, but nothing would go our way," said Graham.
Stidham believes his squad has the mental toughness to bounce back from Friday's loss today, regardless of whether they are playing Bruce or West Lowndes.
Strategically, Stidham says it doesn't matter to him or the rest of the Wolverines who today's opponent is, recognizing both potential opponents are talented.
"The only reason I might (would rather play) Bruce is because we are in West Lowndes' gym," said Stidham. "Either team, we're going to have to play a really good ballgame and get after it."