Bulldogs miss key players as woes continue
Having lost the past four games by an average of 39.2 points per game, Cornersville felt it had a winnable game on Tuesday night against a Culleoka (5-9, 3-2) team the Bulldogs (2-9, 2-3) figure to be battling for fourth place in the district as the tournament rolls around.
But taking the court missing four players that play big time minutes (two injured, one quit, one on vacation) Cornersville knew they would have to play a near perfect game to notch a win against the Warriors and the Bulldogs did for one half before going cold in second half and letting one slip away 61-52.
"I didn't see any defense that we ran tonight work," Bulldog coach Matt Hagan pointed out. "They dribbled through our press and they beat us down the floor. We shot a lot of outside shots and I was trying to get them to drive some and try to draw some contact. I think their height bothered us a little bit. Bottom line is they beat us."
The Bulldogs had their chances, jumping out to a 7-0 lead, taking a tie into halftime and cutting the lead down to two with a minute left in the third, but bad shot selection and careless ball handling doomed the maroon and white down the stretch.
"In the second half we took too many threes instead of trying to work the ball inside and get easy buckets and trying to get to the foul line that way," senior leader Michael Allen said. "When you shoot 6-of-27 from the 3-point line, you have to change something and we didn't. Also, we let them have way too many second and third chance points that they took advantage of. We were badly outrebounded."
Allen turned in a gutsy nine point, 10 rebound and three assist game for the home team while Tyler Wolaver led the Bulldogs with 13 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Cam Whitaker chipped in 12 points and Henlee Mitchell added eight points and seven steals.
The Warriors were led by four players in double figures with Choffe Thrasher leading the way 15 points, Chase Thrasher and Dylan Hubbell with 12 each and Tyler Brown scored 10.
The Bulldogs started the game with a flourish as Cam Whitaker scored the first seven points of the game on a lay-up, a jumper and trifecta and with a Mitchell triple, Cornersville carried a 10-6 lead with three minutes left in the first quarter.
Matthew Gilliam completed a Culleoka steal and layup to tie the game up at 10 and a Brown layup with 10 seconds left gave the Warriors a 14-12 lead heading into the second frame.
The lead seesawed back and forth in the second quarter with a Mitchell 3-pointer tying the game at 15-15 and a Marques Martin bank shot on a drive gave the lead back to the Bulldogs at 17-15.
Allen completed a three-point play for the 22-19 lead, but Hubbell tied the game on the next possession with a long distance triple.
Wolaver nailed his first 3-pointer of the game with 1:18 in the half for the 25-23 lead and after four straight Warrior points Whitaker scored his ninth point of the game to knot the game back up at 27 heading into the break.
Culleoka took control of the game to start the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers by Hubbell plus a layup by Brown and just two minutes into the third period, the Bulldogs faced its largest lead of the game at 35-27.
The Bulldogs did not go away easy as Martin hit Allen for a layup and Wolaver drove to the basket for a lay in to cut the lead back down to 37-35 with 1:14 left in the quarter, but Hubbell put the proverbial nail in the coffin with his fourth three of the game a minute and a half into the final frame and the Warriors escaped southern Marshall County with the district win.
"After the game I just went back over some things that we already addressed," Hagan said. "I don't want them to cry about officiating during the game and the bottom line is we got beat because they outplayed us and that's the bottom line.
"It wasn't about the officiating," Hagan added. "We didn't rebound the ball. That's basically what I told them. We're not gonna blame it on anyone but ourselves."
The road to the district doesn't getting any easier with a trip to undefeated and first place Richland (12-0, 5-0) on Friday. The Raiders beat district powers Columbia Academy and Mount Pleasant by one-point to hand each its only league loss of the season.
"We have a very tough game against undefeated Richland and would love to come out with a big upset win but it's gonna take everything we have got," Allen said. "We have to play Cornersville style basketball. We have been all over the place lately playing timid some games and then playing strong the next when we know we are outmanned like what happened against Pickett County. We have to start stringing those real strong games together every night."
Cornersville 12 15 8 17 52
Culleoka 14 13 12 22 61
Cornersville (52): Tyler Wolaver 13, Cam Whitaker 12, Michael Allen 9, Henlee Mitchell 8, Marques Martin 4, Alexander Stewart 4, Devin Baus 2
3-point goals (6): Wolaver 2, Whitaker 2, Mitchell 2
Culleoka (61): Choffe Thrasher 15, Dylan Hubbell 12, Chase Thrasher 12, Tyler Brown 10, Matthew Gilliam 9, Dillan South 3
3-point goals (5): Hubbell 4, Chase Thrasher
Halftime: Cornersville 27, Culleoka 27