BY NICHOLAS SULLIVAN
A long scoring drought, which lasted nearly two full quarters, overshadowed a solid defensive effort from Woodland in the semifinals of the Seven Hills Rotary/Rome News-Tribune Christmas Tournament.
The Wildcats were saddled with exactly four points for almost half of the game, stretching from the midway point of the first quarter until halfway through the third period. Even still, Model never truly ran away with the game until the second half of its 48-22 win Wednesday at Georgia Highlands College.
A layup from K.J. Rogers and two free throws by DiAnthony Heathcock had Woodland (2-7) within 7-4 in the early stages of the game. Slowly but surely, Model (7-3) pulled away.
The Blue Devils led 9-4 after one quarter, 21-4 at halftime and 27-4 early in the third quarter. Heathcock broke the extended dry spell with a jumper 3 minutes, 25 seconds into the second half.
Woodland was as close as 29-9 after Connor McGuire buried a 3-pointer, but a 9-0 Model run effectively put the game to bed.
After being stuck on single-digit points over the first three quarters, the Wildcats finally broke through in the fourth quarter. Two free throws each by Heathcock and Jamison Lawrence, as well as one 3 each by McGuire, Jaden Johnson and Jordan Barker helped Woodland make its final point total more respectable.
While the offense will need some work moving forward, the Wildcats defense can take solace in knowing it held the Blue Devils to 14 or fewer points in every period. Model’s final total would have been even lower had Woodland not continued to press defensively in the second half.
With the win, Model will face Coosa in tonight’s tournament championship game. Meanwhile, Woodland will face Pepperell in the third-place game at 5:30 p.m. Both games will be at Berry College.