Bulldogs step up, take charge and defeat Hawks

Sunday, December 11, 2016
Austin Ridinger (24) grabs a rebound and scores on the put-back in the Bulldogs' win over Hampshire. Photos by Caylee Porter

The Bulldogs only win during the 2015-16 campaign came from a four-point home win over Hampshire in mid-January and when the two winless teams met up again at the same place just shy of 11 months later, a much needed win was on the line in the district opener.

A much more disciplined Bulldog squad took the court on Tuesday night and by the time the final horn sounded, Cornersville (1-4, 1-0) had its first win of the season by beating the Hawks (0-6, 0-1) convincingly 68-28.

"This team as a whole works a little bit better together," Brock Powers, who finished with a double-double on 10 points and 10 rebounds, said. "We were young last year and a bunch of us have matured. We've learned ball movement, we take better shots, and we're just learning how to play basketball better."

Freshman Tyler Wolaver turned in another masterful game for the Bulldogs with 16 points and four assists while Austin Ridinger added 11 points and four rebounds. Cam Whitaker, Eli Woodard, and Michael Allen all scored seven points apiece and Scooter Stewart contributed four points, four rebounds, and a block.

"Ball movement was the key to the win," Wolaver said. "We came out and reversed the ball really well, had a bunch of steals, and we rebounded well."

"We can always move the ball a little better," Wolaver added. "We can get in even better shape and continue to work hard at rebounding and playing defense."

The Bulldogs left little doubt as to which team wanted to win the most as Wolaver came out on fire hitting a layup and a triple on passes from Woodard.

By the time Wolaver knocked down his second 3-pointer of the opening frame with 38.2 seconds remaining, the Bulldogs had built a 13-3 lead.

"I challenged our kids," CHS coach Matt Hagan said. "We had three or four kids that haven't shown up in games. And it makes a difference when they show up and play well. It's just everybody buying in and getting after it from start to finish. And I think it helped us to have a little success early. That helped our confidence all the way through the game."

Eli Woodard grabs the rebound and starts the fast break in the Bulldogs' 40-point win over Hampshire.

Noah James knocked down a three to bring the Hawks to within 15-7 just under two minutes into the second quarter, but Cornersville senior guard Michael Allen scored on a driving layup before knocking down two free throws and Stewart sank a mid-range jumper to push the lead to 21-9 two minutes later.

Whitaker nailed a 3-pointer with 24 seconds remaining in the half and Woodard scored on a driving layup four seconds before the buzzer and the Bulldogs took 30-14 lead into the break.

Unlike last season the Bulldogs kept a foot on the gas as the game wore on with six different players scoring for the home team and the lead became unmanageable for the Hawks with a 44-21 deficit heading into the final period.

The fourth quarter brought a running clock, but for the first time in over two seasons the Bulldogs were not on the receiving end by outscoring the Hawks 24-7 to end the game with a flourish.

The Bulldogs return home to do battle with Santa Fe on Friday before testing its newfound confidence against perennial 12A powers Columbia Academy and Mount Pleasant on the road.

Cornersville 13 17 14 24-68

Hampshire 4 10 7 7-28

Cornersville (68): Tyler Wolaver 16, Austin Ridinger 11, Brock Powers 10, Eli Woodard 7, Cam Whitaker 7, Michael Allen 7, Alexander Stewart 4, Henlee Mitchell 3, Cameron Garner 2, Devin Baus 1.

3-point goals (6): Wolaver 3, Whitaker, Mitchell, Woodard.

Hampshire (28): Noah James 10, Hayden Journey 8, Cody Jones 5, Alex Wyatt 3, Jay Marks 2.

3-point goals (3): James, Wyatt, Journey.

Halftime score: Cornersville 30, Hampshire 14