Class 5A blog: Calhoun girls use ‘controlled chaos’ to move up rankings

The 2021-22 Calhoun girls are in contention to win Region 8-5A

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The 2021-22 Calhoun girls are in contention to win Region 8-5A

A mention of Calhoun athletics immediate brings to mind the football program, which played for the state championship in December. Now the girls basketball team is trying to add themselves to the equation of programs worthy of being in the hunt for a region or state title.

The No. 8 Yellow Jackets are off to a 13-4 start and Tuesday scored a big 71-62 victory No. 5 Cass. The win moved Calhoun into first place in Region 8 and puts added emphasis on the Feb. 4 rematch in Calhoun. Cass beat Calhoun by six in a Christmas tournament in December.

“To see the crowds start coming and people getting excited and high-fiving,” coach Jaime Echols said. “Slowly but surely we’re going to make girls basketball fans.”

After two so-so seasons, Echols decided the change philosophies. No longer would the Yellow Jackets walk it up the court and play a half-court game, they would switch to a frenetic fast-paced game that he called “controlled chaos.” It’s the type of all-out press-and-attack style employed from some of the state’s best teams, like Southwest DeKalb and Buford, but it isn’t an easy transformation.

“We got started on it this summer and you could see the improvement as the year has gone on with our defensive rotations and understanding what we’re trying to do in our press,” Echols said. “Just doing it every day has gotten them more comfortable with it.”

The grueling style of play requires the girls to be extremely fit, but Calhoun has put in the work necessary to get it done.

“Conditioning is huge for us,” Echols said. “Our practices are brutal. We get in there and its nonstop from the get-go. We’ll play music and we try to make it as fun as possible, but it is brutal what we ask them to do. But when we get in the third and fourth quarter the other teams are tugging on their shorts and our kids are ready to go. I think when they saw all that running and all the stuff we do is relating to us winning basketball games, it was certainly a lot easier for them to buy in at that point.”

Calhoun’s top player is junior Britiya Curtis, who averages 17 points and put up 25 against Cass. Curtis is a point guard who tries to get others involved, but is capable of scoring in bunches.

The Yellow Jackets have a pair of freshmen who start – Katherine Atha, a defensive specialist who has already drawn 25 charges and plays with tremendous energy, and Dorsey, Sa’Niah averages 12 points and has continued to improve.

The other starters are junior Lauren Watson, the team’s 3-point specialist, and post Dora Moore. Another freshman, Allie Duke, also plays the post and has earned more time.

“The attitude and the energy of this group is just fun to be around,” Echols said. “And they’re fun and they practice hard. Like I said, practices can be brutal, but they have a smile on their faces and go at it. I think it’s rubbed off on me and our other coaches. It’s just been a fun season.”

In addition to Cass, the Yellow Jackets have difficult region foes in Hiram and Blessed Trinity. They still have two games remaining against BT and must play at Hiram; Calhoun beat Hiram 47-46 in the first meeting on Jan. 11.

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