Bulldogs wear down late against Warriors
Aided by the return of starting forward Hayden McMahon, the Cornersville Bulldogs (2-12, 0-4 District) gave Culleoka a tussle for three quarters, but ran out of steam in the fourth period, as they suffered a 58-42 loss to the Warriors on the road.
After trailing 29-18 at the break, the Bulldogs clawed their way back into the contest and sliced the deficit to 33-29 early in the fourth quarter.
Culleoka (7-6, 3-2 District), however, caught fire offensively after that point and outscored Cornersville 25-13 over the final seven and half minutes to pull away for the 16-point victory.
"Our effort was good for all four quarters, but our youth showed up late. We didn't play well in the first half, but our effort kept us in the game," said Bulldog coach Adrian Wilson. "We usually struggle some in the third quarter, but we held them to two points and got back into it. They hit two threes in the fourth quarter though that took the wind out of us."
Bolstered by a 11-of-16 shooting performance in the fourth period, the Warriors shot 42 percent (22-of-53) from the field overall despite hitting only 3-of-14 three-point attempts. Culleoka did commit 18 turnovers, but outrebounded Cornersville 33-22 and held a 15-6 edge on the offensive glass.
The Warriors got a big contribution from their bench, as their reserves accounted for 38 of their 58 points in the contest.
Backup forward Ty Daly paced Culleoka with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting, while Derek Lacy, Devante Rogers, and Ben Hubbell each added six points.
Although the Bulldogs outscored the Warriors 16-11 at the foul line, Cornersville mustered only 12 field goals on 32 percent shooting, hit just 2-of-14 attempts from beyond the arc, and committed 24 turnovers.
Freshman guards Tate Lowery and Zack Smith led the Bulldogs with 13 and 11 points respectively, while McMahon tallied eight points. Jamie Crowell and David Looney also chipped in three points apiece for Cornersville, and Stone Riner and Danny Gordon both had two points.
"Having Hayden back is huge for us. He gives us another ball handler on the court and gives us some length inside," said Wilson.
The Bulldogs hung tough early and held a 12-11 lead late in the first quarter with the help of four points apiece from Lowery and McMahon.
Culleoka then went on an 18-3 run to seize a 29-15 advantage with :47 left in the second period before Crowell canned a trey from the top of the key to trim the deficit to 29-18 at the half.
In the third, Cornersville tallied the first eight points of the quarter thanks to two baskets from McMahon and four free throws to narrow the gap to 29-26 with :50 remaining in the stanza.
After Daly scored on an offensive put back in the waning seconds of the third period to break the Warriors offensive drought, Rogers hit a layup at the start of the fourth to give Culleoka 33-26 advantage.
Smith buried a three to cut the deficit to 33-29, but the Warriors broke the game open by putting together a 23-5 run, highlighted by treys from Daly and Zach Henson, to forge a 56-34 lead with 2:35 left.
Cornersville then outscored Culleoka 8-2 the rest of the way behind six points from Smith for the 58-42 final.