The Cornersville Bulldogs (4-6) snapped a three-game losing streak Friday night by defeating the White House-Heritage Patriots 68-57 at home with the aid of a strong first half performance.
Although White House-Heritage came into the contest with an impressive 6-1 record, the Bulldogs led by double digits for most of the game and were only seriously threatened once by the Patriots. Cornersville held a 33-18 advantage at intermission and stretched their lead to seventeen on several occasions in the second half before staving off a fourth quarter rally by White House-Heritage.
While CHS head coach Adrian Wilson didn't consider this a make or break game for his team, he believed it would help his players' psyche over Christmas break.
"Anytime you lose a game, you can't wait to play the next one. Going into this long layoff, it makes you feel a little bit better about yourself and leaves a good taste in your mouth heading into the Christmas tournament," said Wilson.
Except for some struggles at the foul line, the Bulldogs turned in their best offensive performance of the year. Cornersville committed a season low 11 turnovers and shot 50 percent from the field (21-42), highlighted by five three-pointers, en route to scoring a season high 68 points. CHS also outscored the Patriots 21-12 at the foul line despite missing 15 free throws in the contest.
"We picked up the pace tonight. We really wanted to push the ball and we got a lot of lay ups because of that," said Wilson. "It helps playing a team outside of our District that doesn't know us that well. The last three teams we faced we play every year so they know our system and are able to take certain things away. We were able to do some things tonight that we can't do against teams in our District."
Forward Garrett Stiles turned in a stellar all around performance and led four Cornersville players in double figures. Stiles scored a season high 28 points on 11 of 19 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds to go along with four assists and two steals.
Center Joseph Darnell also tallied 13 points, eight rebounds, and a blocked shot, while guards Josh Pope and P.J. Allen each added 10 points. Brent Pope notched seven points, four rebounds, and a blocked shot for CHS as well.
White House-Heritage, meanwhile, held a 16-7 edge on the offensive glass and out rebounded Cornersville 32-28 overall, but settled for perimeter jumpers much of the evening and shot a paltry 33 percent from the field (20-61), which included a 5 of 27 effort from beyond the arc.
Ross Albright paced the Patriots with 27 points, but hit just 8 of 28 shots, while Ethan Kirby had 10 points on 4 of 15 shooting.
The Bulldogs came out with guns blazing and forged a 20-8 lead late in the first quarter with the help of three treys from Allen and a three-pointer by Josh Pope.
Albright then rattled off seven straight points to cut the deficit to 20-15 early in the second period, but Cornersville closed the half with a 13-3 spurt on the strength of 10 points from Stiles and a dunk by Darnell to take a fifteen-point advantage into the break.
The two teams then began to trade baskets at the start of the second half and CHS outscored the Patriots 17-15 through the first ten minutes of the stanza behind nine points from Stiles and four points from Darnell to extend their lead to 50-33 early in the fourth quarter.
White House-Heritage made things interesting late by putting together a 16-5 run to narrow the gap to 55-49 with 2:05 remaining.
The Bulldogs though kept their composure and outscored the Patriots 13-8 the rest of the way thanks to nine free throws and a pair of lay ups by Stiles to secure the 68-57 victory.