Bulldogs fall at Zion Christian

Friday, December 2, 2016
Freshman Tyler Wolaver knocks down a second half free throw. Wolaver finished 2-for-4 from the charity stripe. Tribune photos by Mike Inglsbee

The Cornersville boy's squad traveled to Columbia on Wednesday night to face an undefeated Zion Christian (3-0) squad with its last chance at a non-conference win before the district schedule begins next week.

And the Bulldogs (0-4) looked ready to accomplish that feat for the better part of the game before falling apart late in the third quarter for the 69 -51 loss.

"Too many mistakes and toward the end, against a zone defense, we let them drive all the way and get to the basket," first-year Cornersville coach Matt Hagan stated. "Four or five times in the second half and nobody stopped them. You can't do that and win a ballgame."

Improving

"We're young, we're gonna play well at times, we're gonna play bad at times but we want to make sure we're getting better and better," Hagan added. "I think we're making progress, it's just going to take a little time."

Eli Woodard led the charge for the Bulldogs with 18 points, four rebounds and four steals while freshman Tyler Wolaver chipped in 13 points, five rebounds and three steals.

Briggs Rutter paced the Eagles with 30 points and Jackson South added 13.

The Bulldogs held the Eagles to a mere 15 points with just 2:23 left in the first half, but Zion outscored Cornersville 54-32 from that point on.

Foul play

Cornersville coach Matt Hagan attempts to rally the troops during a second half timeout at Zion Christian Academy in Columbia.

"We started fouling about four minutes into the second quarter and they went into a one-and-one situation and we kept fouling them and putting them on the free throw line," Woodard said. "We weren't playing defense as well as we started out doing, we started getting tired."

Woodard exploded in the second quarter with 10 points and scored on three consecutive steal and layup for a 19-11 lead with 3:50 left in the first half.

The Eagles chipped away at the Bulldogs lead for the remainder of the quarter and finally pulled ahead at 25-24 for its first lead since 3:06 in the first quarter on a Rutter layup with 11 seconds left.

Woodard knocked down two free throws on the next possession to cap of a 14-point half and the Bulldogs clung to a 26-25 lead at the break.

Second half

The Eagles started the second half with a flurry of easy layups, but the Bulldogs hung tight before relinquishing the lead on a Chandler Parker three-point play for the 34-31 edge.

The play drained the confidence of the Bulldogs and by the time Luke Lowery completed another three-point play just over two minutes later, the Eagle lead ballooned to 46-33.

Wolaver scored seven straight points to cut the Eagle lead back down to 48-42 with 6:21 left in the game, but Zion went on another big 21-9 run to end the game.

"A little bit of it was we were tired and part of it was we just quit playing defense the way we did in the first half," Michael Allen said.

District play

The Bulldogs now jump into the district schedule looking for its first win of the season when they entertain Hampshire on Tuesday night.

"We're gonna crawl, we're gonna walk, then we're gonna run," Woodard said. "Right now we're between crawling and walking. We keep getting better every week. As long as we play like we did early tonight we'll do a lot better."

Cornersville 9 17 10 15-51

Zion Christian 8 17 21 23-69

Cornersville (51)-Eli Woodard 18, Tyler Wolaver 13, Michael Allen 7, Bryce Hagan 6, Alexander Stewart 5, Devin Baus 3

Three-point goals-Stewart

Zion Christian (69)-Briggs Rutter 30, Jackson South 13, Mark Lowery 8, Demondrez Melton 7, Ryan Green 5, Chandler Parker 3, Luke Lowery 3

Three-point goals-Rutter 3. Cornersville (1) - Stewart

Halftime: Cornersville 26 Zion Christian 25