Eagles hand Bulldogs season opening defeat

Friday, November 18, 2016
Michael Allen (31) had seven points in the Bulldogs' opening season loss at Eagleville Tuesday night. Photos by George "Pap" Warren

The Cornersville boys traveled to Eagleville on Tuesday night to kick off the season in a Hall of Champions game, looking to bounce back after a 1-22 season in 2015-16 with a new coach Matt Hagan at the helm.

Eagleville also looked to build on a less than stellar 2015-16 season that ended with a loss in the first round of the district tournament and a 12-13 record.

Cornersville proved that the rebuilding process could be a long road as the Eagles jumped out to 53-18 halftime lead and ultimately won going away 77-46, but coach Hagan was able to find a few bright spots in the tough opening loss.

On target

"(Eagleville) had a great night shooting the ball and they moved the ball well," Hagan said. "They're a good team so that's something we can definitely look at and say that's somewhere we want to be down the road."

"We haven't went to camp, these guys just joined me, the football players just joined me a week ago," Hagan added. "So, not bad. We're going to improve as a unit as the year goes on."

The Bulldogs were led by sophomore guard Cameron Whitaker with 10 points, freshman wing Tyler Wolaver with eight points and point guard Michael Allen with seven points, four assists, and three rebounds. Brock Powers came off the bench to provide strong inside play with four points and seven rebounds.

Hot shooters

Brock Powers (32) takes the rock strong to the hole for two of his four points on the night.

The Eagles started the game red hot from the field and continued to knock down long range bombs for the entirety of the contest, knocking down 3-pointers by six different players, led by Graham Hatcher's 18 points on four 3-pointers and Eric Hawks' 19 points.

Hawks, Hatcher, and Austin Davenport combined to score 17 of the Eagles 26 first quarter points, but Austin Ridinger scored four early points and a Cam Whitaker three allowed the Bulldogs to remain within striking distance at the end of the first quarter at 26-13.

The Eagles blew the game wide open in the second period by holding the Bulldogs to just five points in the quarter, while scoring 27 on 10 points each from Hatcher and Hawks to take a commanding 53-18 lead at the half.

What happened

"We started off a little slow and we're not used to seeing that kind of speed in practice so we turned the ball over a lot," Hagan said. "But we knew we had some things to work on so it's a good first game for us to kind of show us, hey, we need some work."

The Bulldogs came out of the first half more confident and played the home team within one point at 16-15 behind five Allen points and six combined points from Ridinger and Wolaver.

With the benches of both squads emptied in the final frame, the Bulldogs closed to gap by outscoring the Eagles 13-8 behind four Powers points to end the game on a high note.

"I think we improved in the second half," Hagan stated. "We need to come in and work on some things, but second half we did a little bit better job rebounding the ball, got back on defense and didn't let them beat us down the floor as much."

Improvement likely

"We could have moved the ball a little bit better, but I think with time that will get better too," Hagan continued. "We know we'll have to stress rebounding and defense is the one thing that's important to us. We just knew we had some things to work on."

The Bulldogs will resume action Tuesday at 5:15 p.m. in the Ardmore Thanksgiving Tournament in Ardmore, Alabama versus Decatur Heritage Christian Academy.

Eagleville 26 27 16 8-77

Cornersville 13 5 15 13-46

Eagleville-Eric Hawks 19, Graham Hatcher 18, Austin Strickland 11, Ethan Cobb 8, Austin Davenport 6, Evan Rives 5, Tre Burns 3, Bobby Snell 3, Chevy Sutton 2, Ethan Hurt 2

Three-point goals-Graham Hatcher 4, Austin Davenport 2, Evan Rives, Austin Strickland, Tre Burns, Bobby Snell

Cornersville-Cam Whitaker 10, Tyler Wolaver 8, Michael Allen 7, Austin Ridinger 7, Cameron Garner 4, Brock Powers 4, Eli Woodard 3, Marques Martin 2, Devon Baus 1

Three-point goals-Tyler Wolaver, Cam Whitaker, Michael Allen

Halftime-Eagleville 53 Cornersville 18