Santa Fe (13-8, 6-4 District) had clobbered CHS 59-22 in their previous meeting on Dec. 16, but the Bulldogs put up a much tougher fight this time around and held a 34-33 lead late in the third quarter.
After the Wildcats pulled ahead 46-38 midway through the fourth period, Cornersville tied the game at 46-46 in the final minute of play and had possession of the ball with 4.9 seconds left.
Disaster struck for CHS, however, as Santa Fe's Hunter Clanton stole the Bulldog inbounds pass before dishing the ball to Matt Priest, who scored on a layup as time expired to give the Wildcats the two-point victory.
"Since we're so young, a lot our guys haven't been here before and haven't been in this situation this year. I don't want to talk about the negatives because there were a lot of positives tonight and the guys played their tails off," said Cornersville coach Adrian Wilson.
The Bulldogs struggled to break the Wildcat press for much of the evening and committed 26 turnovers, but stayed in the game by shooting 49 percent (18-of-37) from the field, which included a 6-of-15 effort from three-point range.
Despite hitting only 2-of-12 attempts from beyond the arc, Santa Fe finished with 22 field goals on 39 percent shooting and committed 15 turnovers. The Wildcats also held a 16-6 edge on the offensive glass and outrebounded CHS 27-23 overall.
Stone Riner drilled three treys and led three Cornersville players in double figures with 13 points. Hayden McMahon also tallied 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting to go along with six rebounds, four assists, and four steals, while Danny Gordon added 10 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Zack Smith notched eight points for the Bulldogs as well and Jamie Crowell and Devante Spencer both had two points.
Priest paced Santa Fe with 15 points, while Clanton and Jake Sproul each tallied nine points.
Cornersville inched out to a 9-6 lead midway through the first quarter thanks to a Riner three and baskets from Crowell, Gordon, and Spencer, before the Wildcats tallied six straight points to pull ahead 12-9 late in the period.
The Bulldogs then outscored Santa Fe 12-7 over the next 6:27 with the help of four points from Gordon and treys from Smith and Riner to grab a 21-19 lead late in the second.
After the Wildcats went on a 7-0 run to seize a 26-21 advantage, Smith hit a three and a short jumper before Gordon made a layup in the waning moments of the half to give Cornersville a 28-26 lead at the break.
In the third, Santa Fe opened the quarter with a 7-2 spurt to go up 33-30, but McMahon scored two straight baskets to stake the Bulldogs to a 34-33 lead.
The Wildcats outscored CHS 13-4 over the next 4:42 to open up a 46-38 advantage midway through the fourth quarter, before Cornersville responded with an 8-0 run, highlighted by threes from Riner and McMahon to tie the game at 46-46 with :44 left.
Following a steal by Crowell, Santa Fe batted the ball out of bounds with 4.9 seconds remaining while the Bulldogs were trying to hold the ball for the final shot.
Clanton then intercepted the inbounds pass near midcourt and raced towards the basket before passing the ball to Priest underneath the basket. Priest then hit a layup as the buzzer sounded to set off a jubilant celebration by the Wildcats.