The Cornersville Bulldogs (13-13) ended the regular season on a sour note Friday when they dropped a 57-50 decision on the road to the White House-Heritage Patriots, who CHS had defeated 68-57 in their previous meeting on Dec. 19.
Cornersville led for much of the first half, but the Patriots surged ahead in the final three and a half minutes of the stanza to take a 27-20 advantage into the break. White House-Heritage then stretched their lead to 13 points early in the fourth quarter before staving off a late Bulldog rally.
While the game had no bearing on CHS' District tournament seeding, Cornersville head coach Adrian Wilson was hoping for a better effort from his team in their final game before the start of the postseason.
"We were lackadaisical. We had spots where we played well, but you can't go on the road and pick your spots and expect to win. We weren't mentally tough tonight," said Wilson.
The Bulldogs shot a respectable 47 percent from the field (18-38), highlighted by a 4 of 9 effort from three-point range, but committed 15 costly turnovers, which led to several easy transition buckets for White House-Heritage.
"When we turned it over, they got points off of it. We basically fed them for layups on a few occasions," said Wilson.
The Patriots, meanwhile, finished with 20 field goals on 43 percent shooting, which included a 6 of 16 performance from beyond the arc, and committed 13 turnovers. White House-Heritage also out rebounded Cornersville 29-21 and held a 10-3 edge on the offensive glass.
Center Joseph Darnell turned in a strong effort for the Bulldogs in a losing cause, as he hit 8-of-10 shots and 6-of-8 free throws to finish with a game high 22 points, seven blocked shots, four rebounds, and two steals.
Garrett Stiles also tallied 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting, while P.J. Allen added six points and three assists. Josh Pope (three points) and Brent Pope (two points) rounded out the scoring for Cornersville with Josh Pope registering five rebounds, five assists, and two steals as well.
Shooting guard Ross Albright paced the Patriots with 23 points, while Devin Harper added 10 points and seven assists. John Moore and Ethan Kirby also had nine points apiece for White House-Heritage.
Darnell carried the Bulldogs early on and scored 11 points through the first 11 minutes of the game to stake CHS to a 13-9 lead midway through the second quarter.
After the Patriots tied the game at 13-13, Darnell converted a pair of free throws to put Cornersville back up 15-13.
White House-Heritage though began to heat up offensively and went on a 10-3 run to grab a 23-18 advantage with 1:35 left in the half.
Stiles scored on an offensive put back to trim the deficit to 23-20, but Harper converted one of two free throws before hitting a 60-foot heave at the buzzer to give the Patriots a 27-20 lead at intermission.
In the third, the Bulldogs began the quarter with a 9-4 spurt, highlighted by an Allen trey to narrow the gap to 31-29, but White House-Heritage rattled off 10 straight points to open up a 41-31 advantage with 1:15 left in the stanza.
Following a layup by Darnell, Albright drilled a three at the start of the fourth to make it 44-31.
Cornersville managed to claw their way back into the game by putting together a 16-8 run behind 11 points from Stiles and five points from Darnell to slice the deficit to 50-47 with 1:39 remaining.
Unfortunately, CHS came up empty on their next three offensive possessions, while the Patriots tallied seven straight points on a Jordan Bedwell layup and five free throws to push their lead to 57-47 with 7.8 seconds left, before Josh Pope hit a trey at the buzzer for the 57-50 final.