On Friday night, the Cornersville Bulldogs (1-1) finally reached the light at the end of the tunnel, as they defeated the Riverside Christian Academy Knights 57-55 in Fayetteville to snap a 29-game losing streak.
After Riverside tied the game at 46-46, Cornersville pulled ahead 52-46 with 2:00 left before withstanding another rally attempt by the Knights to hold on for the two-point victory.
"It feels great. Anytime you can get a win after not winning for a whole season it's good for morale. Hopefully we can build on this," said CHS coach Adrian Wilson.
Although the Bulldogs shot only 35 percent from the field (17-of-48), which included a 6-of-20 effort from three-point range, they hit 4-of-5 field goal attempts in the pivotal fourth quarter. Cornersville also knocked down 17-of-24 free throws, committed only 14 turnovers and held a 11-8 edge on the offensive glass despite being outrebounded 30-26 by RCA overall.
The Knights, meanwhile, shot 45 percent from the floor (18-40) and hit 4-of-10 attempts from beyond the arc, but converted only 15-of-27 free throws and committed 18 turnovers.
"Haydon got the ball in his hands late and made some good decisions. He got to the rim and got fouled," said Wilson. "Zack Smith came in here last year and hit five threes in a quarter during a middle school game so he seems to like this gym."
Guard Corey Albert paced Riverside Christian with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, while Clint McCormick and Reagan Eldridge added 13 and eight points respectively.
After RCA inched out to an early 4-2 lead, the Bulldogs went on a 17-8 run with the help of five points from Lovett and a pair of treys from Smith and Crowell to pull ahead 19-12 late in the first quarter.
The Knights outscored CHS 13-5 over the final 8:30 of the half to take a 25-24 lead into the break before notching the first basket of the third quarter to open up a 27-24 advantage.
Cornersville, though, fought back and answered with a 14-6 spurt behind six points from Lovett and two Smith threes to seize a 38-33 lead with 2:32 left in the third period.
Riverside Christian tallied the next five points to knot the game at 38-38 late in the third, before the Bulldogs ripped off eight straight points, highlighted by a Smith trey, to take a 46-38 lead early in the fourth.
The Knights rallied to retie the game at 46-46 midway through the fourth, but McMahon scored six consecutive points on two layups and a pair of free throws to stake CHS to a 52-46 advantage.
After RCA used a 7-3 run to whittle the deficit to 55-53, Crowell hit two clutch free throws to give the Bulldogs a 57-53 lead with :20 remaining.
Riverside Christian closed the gap to 57-55 on an offensive put back by Elisa Brooks and had a chance to potentially tie the game after stealing the inbounds pass, but CHS escaped with the victory when McCormick and Eldridge both missed layup attempts in the final three seconds.