Cole leads Bulldogs to 56-55 victory

Friday, December 21, 2007
Photo by Anthony S. Puca Jimmy Civils calmly nails two free throws with just 25 ticks left on the clock.

For the second year in row, the Cornersville Bulldogs snatched a last-second victory from the Collinwood Trojans as Tyler Cole hit a running lay-up for a three-point play with just 46 seconds left that capped off a Bulldog come-back from seven points down with just over two minutes to play to win 56-55.

With the win, the Bulldogs evened their overall record at 5-5 and remained in first place in District 11A with a 3-0 record.

Last year, Steven "The Iceman" Nelms hit a three-pointer at the buzzer in double overtime to steal a victory in Cornersville. The Trojans are beginning to find that traveling to Cornersville has nightmarish effects.

Bulldog Head Coach Adrian Wilson said after the game, "They may have liked the bus ride here, but they sure don't like the ride home."

It was a tough battle right from the outset as Cornersville's Garrett Stiles and Cole blocked Trojan shots on their first two possessions down the floor and took an early 5-3 lead before Collinwood stormed back with eight straight points and an 11-5 first quarter lead.

Cole was huge again as he stepped in front of a pass on Collinwood's first possession of the second quarter and took it the distance to cut the lead to four points. Stiles hit a leaping leaner to make it 11-9 and Cole tied the game at 11 with two free throws.

Cole nailed a fall away jumper to give the Bulldogs a 13-11 lead, Collinwood scored four straight to make it 15-15, and Stiles had a put-back bucket to give the Dawgs a 17-15 lead before Collinwood's Jacob Gobble nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Trojans an 18-15 lead at halftime.

The "Iceman" returned at the outset of the fourth period when he drained a long three-bomb to give the lead back to the Dawgs at 20-18 and Cole scored in the paint to make it 22-18. The action was fast and furious the entire eight minutes, but Cornersville pulled away late as Nelms had two huge steals to lead the home team to a 40-34 lead at the end of three periods.

Collinwood kept on chopping wood and notching into the Bulldog lead when they finally overtook them at 42-43 mid-way through the final stanza.

It looked like the Bulldogs would go down in defeat as Collinwood led 53-46 with just over two minutes to play. Cole cut the lead to five with a bucket in the paint and after a missed shot by the Trojans it was déjà vu all over again as the "Iceman" poured in a three-pointer from right corner to slice the lead to just two points at 53-51 with 1:11 left.

Collinwood came out of a timeout and Joe West went to the line for a one and one and missed both attempts. Nelms grabbed the missed free throw and the Bulldogs set up a play that found a streaking Cole in the lane with 46 seconds left for a pretty kiss off the glass and a foul that sent the crowd crazy. Cole went to the line where he calmly drained the free throw to give the Dawgs a 54-53 lead.

Collinwood called another timeout, but turned the ball over to the Bulldogs once again. A huge play took place next as Collinwood thought they had a turnover, but the officials called a tipped pass that kept the ball in Cornersville's possession. The Collinwood fans did not like the call, but the Trojans had to foul Jimmy Civils on the inbounds play and Civils showed no signs of letting in as he drained both ends of a one and one for a 56-53 lead with just 25.2 seconds left in the game.

The Trojans threw the ball away again, but Cornersville missed on a one and one to give Collinwood another chance, but they also missed two free throw attempts with 14.4 seconds left.

Cornersville let them stay in the game on a turnover and Collinwood scored on a lay-up by Tanner West with 4.4 seconds left to make it 56-55. The Bulldogs tried to throw the homerun pass on the inbounds play, but Gobble intercepted the pass and heaved the ball at the basket as time ran out to no avail and the Bulldogs jumped for joy and the Trojans did not, for the second year in a row.

"We always match up good with Collinwood," Cole said in the post game interview. "They are one of the most even teams we play. I don't think they like coming here at all. That game was just awesome."

Stiles and Nelms had 11 points each to go with Cole's 20, Civils had six, and Lucas Highfill, Joseph Darnell, and Josh Rich each two for the Bulldogs, who will not see action again until Thursday, Dec. 28, when they take on Eagleville at the Eagleville Christmas Classic at 4 p.m. Cornersville faces off with the Forrest Rockets on Friday at the classic at 8:30 p.m.