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Seniors lead Tigers to region win

By Brian Paglia

bpaglia@news-daily.com

As Drew held a double-digit lead early in the second quarter, Titans coach Jarrod Davis watched Stockbridge senior Dante Campbell display the missing ingredient in Davis' team.

Campbell went coast-to-coast for a lay-up; pulled up for a deep 3; drove into the lane and made a floating jumper; and drove baseline for a reverse lay-up. Davis called a timeout to stop the bleeding, but Campbell's impact had already been cemented.

"The only thing I'm thinking in my mind is do not let (Campbell) get started," Davis said. "The thing is Dante showed (his teammates) that he wasn't going to let them lose."

The Tigers' senior provided the steady hand of an experienced player that Drew lacked. Campbell put forth a virtuoso performance in Stockbridge's 59-55 victory Monday at Drew in a Region 4-AAA game with 27 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and two assists.

Stockbridge (10-5, 8-2) moved into sole possession of second place in the region with the win, just one game behind No. 7 Henry County. The Tigers can improve their stock even further when they host Spalding (10-5, 6-3) today at 7:30 p.m.

Drew (9-5, 7-3) fell back into the muddle mess that has become third place of Region 4-AAA with Eagle's Landing and Spalding.

But it was the Titans who jumped out to a 17-4 lead early in the second quarter. Stockbridge couldn't find its rhythm on offense or find a way to stop the Titans' balanced scoring attack.

That was until Campbell took control. The senior forward scored 15 points in the second quarter, helping to cut Drew's lead down to 28-26 by halftime and invigorate Stockbridge.

"We saw that (Drew) was ranked No. 9 in the state," Campbell said, "so we just wanted to know ... what was so special about them. We just had to pick up the energy to get it done tonight."

"He energized us," Stockbridge coach Duane Kelley said. "When we were down, he stepped his game up like our leader is supposed to. ... He's our leader, and today he decided enough was enough and he was going to lead by example. That's what we've got him for."

The rest of Stockbridge came alive coming out of halftime. The Tigers forced four-straight turnovers and turned them into eight points to take their first lead of the night. When Drew was called for a technical foul mid-way through the third quarter, Campbell stepped to the line and made both free throws to give Stockbridge a 40-34 lead, its largest of the game.

Drew didn't go away. The Titans scored eight-straight points to reclaim the lead. Three times they cut Stockbridge's lead to a basket in the fourth quarter. When Miles Cosby made one of two free throws with 30.8 seconds left in the game, Stockbridge's lead was down to 56-55.

And then Stockbridge's advantage in experience and leadership returned. The Tigers dribbled through Drew's pressure defense, forcing the Titans to foul.

Antonio Jackson and Badger, a pair of seniors, calmly made three of four free throws in the game's waning seconds to help Stockbridge survive with its fourth consecutive victory.

"Our team if nothing else is resilient," Kelley said. "We just made plays at the end."