Santa Fe ousts Bulldogs from District tournament
For the second straight year, the Cornersville Bulldogs (5-21) were knocked out of the District 11-A tournament by Santa Fe, as CHS dropped a 49-34 decision on the road to the fourth seeded Wildcats (13-14) in the first round of the tourney on Tuesday night.
Having narrowly defeated Cornersville 58-57 in double overtime in their previous meeting on Jan. 29, Santa Fe held a 21-17 lead at halftime of Tuesday's contest before outscoring the fifth seeded Bulldogs 28-17 over the final two quarters to pull away for the 15-point win.
"I would have liked to have won this game, but overall I'm proud of this group," said CHS coach Gerard Randolph. "I think we still accomplished some of our goals. We won more District games than we did last season and moved up in the District standings. Hopefully we can build on this and keep improving the program."
With starting center Jacob Griffis unable to play due to illness, Cornersville had trouble establishing their low post game and mustered just 12 field goals on 23 percent shooting, which included a 4-of-19 effort from three-point range.
The Bulldogs did commit three fewer turnovers (14-11) than the Wildcats, but Santa Fe outrebounded CHS 35-28 and held a 13-12 edge on the offensive glass.
"Not having Jacob was big. It messed up our rotation with how we sub in. It hurt a lot," said Randolph. "We couldn't get any shots to drop especially in the second half. We made a couple of mental mistakes early in the third quarter and after that we couldn't find the basket."
Senior forward Hayden McMahon recorded a double-double in the final game of his Cornersville career and led the Bulldogs with 12 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocked shots. Tyler Lowery followed McMahon with nine points and five rebounds, while Zack Smith tallied eight points. Alex Walker and Tate Lowery chipped in three and two points for CHS as well with Walker grabbing six rebounds.
The Wildcats, conversely, finished with 15 field goals on 37 percent shooting, knocked down 4-of-15 attempts from beyond the arc, and outscored Cornersville 15-6 at the foul line.
Justin Potts paced three Santa Fe players in double figures with 12 points, while Bert Harris and Hunter Clanton added 11 and 10 points respectively. Evan Burcham also notched eight points for the Wildcats and Wyatt Long had five points.
The Bulldogs actually got off to a fast start offensively and raced out to an 11-7 lead midway through the first quarter behind seven points from Tyler Lowery and four points from McMahon.
Cornersville quickly cooled off after that point, as they failed to score over the next 6:44 while Santa Fe tallied five straight points to pull ahead 12-11 early in the second period.
After McMahon and Tyler Lowery sandwiched two free throws and a jumper around a basket from Harris to put CHS up 15-14 midway through the second quarter, the Wildcats rattled off seven consecutive points to grab a 21-15 lead late in the first half.
Smith scored on a layup in the waning moments of the half to narrow the gap to 21-17, but Santa Fe took control of the game after intermission by putting together a 9-2 run to open up a 30-19 advantage early in the fourth period.
Following a trey by Smith, which cut the deficit to 30-22, the Wildcats outscored the Bulldogs 13-5 over the next five minutes to forge a 43-27 lead.
Cornersville closed the gap to 43-30 on another three by Smith, but Potts notched the next four points of the game on a layup and two foul shots to make it 47-30, before Santa Fe eventually claimed the 49-34 victory.