Bulldog rally comes up short against Culleoka

Friday, January 23, 2015
Cornersville's (1) Jamie Crowell drives past Culleoka's (24) Craig Parks while scoring on a layup in the third quarter. Tribune photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

A gutty second half comeback by Cornersville went for naught on Tuesday night, as the Bulldogs (1-14, 1-8 District) dropped a hard fought 59-51 decision to the Culleoka Warriors on Homecoming.

After taking a 28-22 lead into halftime, Culleoka (6-15, 4-6 District) opened up a 35-24 advantage midway through the third quarter before the Bulldogs came storming back to tie the game at 37-37 early in the fourth period.

Cornersville, however, ran out of steam down the stretch, as the Warriors outscored the Bulldogs 22-14 the rest of the way with the aid of some clutch free throw shooting to complete the sweep of the season series.

Low numbers

Although they committed a mere seven turnovers, Cornersville shot just 38 percent (19-of-50) from the field and made only 5-of-21 attempts from three-point range. The Bulldogs also left a number of points at the foul line and hit just 8-of-22 free throws overall, which included a 4-of-12 effort in the fourth quarter.

"Free throws hurt us tonight. If we hit our free throws it's a different ballgame," said Cornersville coach Gerard Randolph.

Senior forward Jamie Crowell turned in a strong performance in defeat and led three Bulldog players in double figures with 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting to go along with four rebounds and three steals.

Improved play

"Jamie played hard and was more physical this game. He scored some big baskets tonight and was aggressive taking the ball to the rim," said Randolph.

Cornersville's (12) Kolbe McMahon shoots a layup over Culleoka's (15) Savon Tears in the second quarter.

Zack Smith followed Crowell with 13 points, while David Looney added 10 points and four assists. Michael Allen, Kolbe McMahon, and Cody Caneer chipped in four points apiece for Cornersville as well with Allen recording six assists and four steals.

Culleoka, conversely, shot 50 percent (16-of-32) from the floor, made 4-of-10 attempts from beyond the arc, and hit 23-of-31 free throws. The Warriors did commit 19 turnovers, but outrebounded the Bulldogs 33-14 and held an 8-6 edge on the offensive glass.

Reserve guard Savon Tears gave Culleoka a spark off the bench by pouring in a game high 17 points. Craig Parks and Brayden Isabell also notched 13 and 10 points respectively, while Chaffin Thrasher and Peyton Kenney added eight points each. Tyler Brown rounded out the scoring for the Warriors with three points.

Early roll

Crowell was locked in at the start of the game and scored eight points in the first 4:19 of the contest on a pair of threes and an offensive put back to help stake Cornersville to an 11-2 advantage.

Culleoka quickly counterpunched and outscored the Bulldogs 11-5 over the final 3:10 of the first period to whittle the deficit to 16-13.

After Crowell scored on a layup early in the second quarter to make it 18-13, the Warriors controlled the rest of the stanza and engineered a 15-4 spurt to seize a 28-22 lead at halftime.

Smith hit a layup in the opening seconds of the third quarter to close the gap to 28-24, before Culleoka rattled off seven straight points to open up a 35-24 advantage.

Final blast

The Bulldogs then put together a 13-2 run on the strength of five points from Crowell and four points from Smith to knot the game at 37-37 early in the fourth quarter, but Culleoka notched 11 of the next 13 points to grab a 48-39 lead with 1:41 left.

Following a three by Looney, which trimmed the deficit to 48-42, the Warriors held off Cornersville by scoring their final 11 points at the foul line to salt away their 59-51 victory.