The Cornersville Bulldogs dropped their third straight game Tuesday night when they suffered a gut wrenching 53-48 road loss to Columbia Academy despite a strong performance from senior center Joseph Darnell.
Cornersville (3-6, 0-2 District) trailed by ten points early in the fourth quarter, but battled back to tie the game at 48-48 with 1:55 left. The Bulldogs, however, saw their comeback go for naught, as they missed their last three shots of the contest, while CA (4-4, 2-0 District) scored the final five points of the game on a Kade Morgan three-pointer and a pair of free throws by Zach Whiteside to escape with the victory.
Aided by a 10 of 15 shooting performance by Darnell, Cornersville shot 49 percent from the field overall, but offset that by committing 22 turnovers.
"We always fight and I thought we played hard, but it's always disappointing to lose. We're a Jekyll and Hyde team. They had no answer for Joseph, but we gave them the answer by turning the ball over," said CHS head coach Adrian Wilson.
The Bulldogs also registered seven blocked shots and held Columbia Academy to just 33 percent shooting from the field (20-60), but CA had just nine turnovers and held a 10-4 edge on the offensive glass despite being out rebounded 27-25 overall by Cornersville.
Darnell posted his second double-double of the season and led three CHS players in double figures, as he finished with a career high 20 points, 10 rebounds, and three blocked shots.
"There's not a game that we've played this year where I haven't felt that Joseph couldn't dominate. It's just up to Joseph whether he wants to or not. If a team plays us man-to-man, he should have a good game down low," said Wilson.
Small forward Garrett Stiles also tallied 13 points, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, and a blocked shot for the Bulldogs, while point guard Josh Pope had 10 points, five assists, and three rebounds.
Flint Davis and Brent Pope rounded out the scoring for Cornersville with three and two points respectively.
Alex Rector and Zach Whiteside paced Columbia Academy with 10 points apiece, while Noah Richardson added eight points. Morgan and Matthew Williams each had six points for CA as well.
Columbia Academy inched out to an early 5-2 lead, before Cornersville went on a 9-5 run, highlighted by a breakaway dunk from Darnell and a Pope trey, to grab a 11-10 advantage late in the first quarter.
CA then outscored the Bulldogs 12-5 over the next four minutes to seize a 22-16 lead early in the second period, but Stiles caught fire and scored CHS' next eight points on a pair of free throws, a runner, an offensive put back, and a pull up jumper to help Cornersville narrow the gap to 26-24 midway through the stanza.
After Columbia Academy notched the final four points of the second quarter to take a 30-24 advantage into the break, Darnell scored a couple of quick baskets at the start of the third to trim the deficit to 32-28, but CA responded with a 10-4 spurt to stretch their lead to 42-32 with 7:54 left in the fourth period.
The Bulldogs then began to claw their way back into the contest and put together a 16-6 run on the strength of four points apiece by Darnell and Pope and a Davis three-pointer to tie the score at 48-48.
Columbia Academy though retook the lead a few moments later when Morgan drained a three from the left wing to make it 51-48 after Williams grabbed a couple of offensive rebounds during the possession.
Cornersville then came up empty on their next two offensive series before Whiteside made two free throws with nineteen seconds left to seal win CA's 53-48 win.