The Cornersville Bulldogs (14-15) will be forced to take the path of greatest resistance in the first round of the Region 6-A tournament after dropping a 76-60 decision to Columbia Academy (16-13) in the consolation finals of the District 11-A tourney on Tuesday.
Having defeated CA 45-32 in their previous encounter on Jan. 27, Cornersville appeared to be in good shape early on and held a 14-point lead early in the second quarter. Things, however, went downhill for the Bulldogs after that point, as Columbia Academy used a 31-12 run to seize a 39-34 lead at halftime before outscoring CHS 37-26 over the final two quarters to claim third place in the tournament.
"We self destructed. You've got to take the bad with the good. You can't implode like that. We held Columbia Academy to 32 points the last time we played them and they scored 31 points in the second quarter alone," said Cornersville head coach Adrian Wilson. "You never know how we're going to play from game to game."
Due to their loss on Tuesday, the Bulldogs must go on the road in the opening round of the Region tournament and take on District 12-A champ Collinwood, which defeated Cornersville twice during the regular season and boasts an impressive 27-2 record.
Although the Bulldogs shot an impressive 51 percent from field (24-47), out rebounded CA 29-22 and finished with an 11-7 edge on the offensive glass, Cornersville came unraveled against Columbia Academy's full court press and committed 24 turnovers, including 12 in the second period alone.
"They didn't do anything different and we didn't do anything different from the last time we played them. We just didn't execute. We came out and looked great early, but they picked up their pressure and we wilted," said Wilson. "We were weak mentally tonight and that really bothers me."
Senior forward Garrett Stiles scored 28 points on 11-of-18 shooting and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Bulldogs, while center Joseph Darnell tallied 15 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocked shots. Josh Pope, Brent Pope, and Dillon Bean each chipped in five points for Cornersville as well and Flint Davis had two points.
CA, meanwhile, carved up CHS' defense over the final three quarters and finished with 30 field goals on 52 percent shooting, which included an 8-of-19 effort from three-point range, while committing only 12 turnovers.
Guard Matthew Williams drilled six treys and paced Columbia Academy with 28 points, while Alex Rector and Zach Whiteside added 14 and 11 points respectively.
CA jumped out to an early 6-2 lead, but the Bulldogs appeared to take control of the contest by putting together a 20-2 run on the strength of 10 points from Stiles and five points from Josh Pope to claim a 22-8 advantage with 7:01 left in the second quarter.
Cornersville though began to turn the ball over at an alarming rate after that point and Columbia Academy engineered a 24-3 spurt to pull ahead 31-25 late in the period.
After the Bulldogs tallied the next five points on two field goals by Stiles and a Darnell free throw to close the gap to 32-30, CA pushed their lead to 39-32 before Bean hit a jumper in the closing seconds of the half to make it 39-34 at the break.
The game then quickly got away from CHS in the second half, as Columbia Academy opened the stanza with a 32-13 run to forge a 71-47 advantage with 5:00 left in the fourth quarter before coasting to the 76-60 victory.