Bulldogs blow out Wildcats in District 11A tilt
The last time Cornersville and Santa Fe met, the Bulldogs embarrassed the Wildcats with a 54-point blowout win in a game Santa Fe scored just 16 points.
Tuesday night the Wildcats (1-15, 0-8) showed they had drastically improved since early December, trailing by just 10 points two minutes into the third quarter before the Bulldogs turned up the heat and won going away 70-43 in a wild game for both teams.
The Bulldogs (5-9, 5-3) have won three games in a row for the first time since the 2013-14 season, but will have to face two of its toughest opponents in Richland and Columbia Academy with assistant coach Louis Scheuchenzuber on the sidelines after coach Matt Hagan was ejected early in the second quarter on Tuesday night.
"Well I am thinking I need to step up, (after Hagan's ejection)," Scheuchenzuber said. "That's my job, I'm the assistant coach. If the head coach can't be there then I have to step up and do my job. (Hagan) has showed me the plays we run and all the defenses, so it's my job to step up and do a good job in his place."
Scheuchenzuber proved himself more than adequate on the sidelines, guiding the Bulldogs to a 13-point halftime lead and after the Wildcats made a spirited run in the third quarter to trim the lead down to just 10 points, the top assistant calmed the team down enough to head back to Marshall County with a 27-point win.
The Bulldogs were led in the scoring column by senior leader Michael Allen, who scored a career-high 18 points to go along with five rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Austin Ridinger came off the bench to provide 12 points and four rebounds and freshman Tyler Wolaver turned in another stellar performance with 11 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists, all team highs.
The Wildcats were led by 10 points apiece from Nick Humphrey and Jeremy Dotson.
"Tonight's team performance was inspired by coach Hagan," Allen explained. "He was done wrong by getting ejected and we wanted to win the game for him."
"I knew personally I had to step up and be the leader on the floor for every one of my teammates," Allen continued. "I wasn't trying to score all of the points or take everything for myself because that's not how basketball is played. Basketball is a team game and that's how we played so well tonight."
The game started with the Bulldogs jumping out to a quick 6-0 early lead behind two straight Eli Woodard steals and layups, but unlike the first matchup, the Wildcats buckled down and cut the lead to 8-5 after one quarter on baskets by Dotson and Garrett Mills.
Marques Martin started off the second period with a layup to push the lead to 10-5 before Hagan was ejected on a technical foul from the bench and that started a furious rally by the Bulldogs starting with an Allen 3-pointer from the corner.
Allen finished with eight points in the quarter while Wolaver and Ridinger scored six each to allow the Bulldogs to take a closer than expected 30-17 lead into the break.
"We told them during the break that we have a double-digit lead and we wanted to take care of the ball," Scheuchenzuber noted. "We had some break downs in our press and we weren't quite getting to our spots."
"On offense we wanted to take care of the ball, not necessarily stall, but make sure we got good shots, "Scheuchenzuber added. "You want to make them make plays to beat you and you don't want to give them extra opportunities to get easy baskets off long threes or silly passes."
The Bulldogs came out of halftime flat and by the time Quinton Hemphill scored on a three point play to cut the lead to 10, the Wildcats had outscored Cornersville 7-2 to start the half.
Cornersville looked to its senior leader to get them back on track as Allen scored 10 of the Bulldogs' 17 third quarter points to extend the lead back to 17 points heading into the final quarter.
Cornersville managed to increase its lead to over 30 points midway through the fourth quarter and Scheuchenzuber cleared the bench to garner his first win on the varsity level.
The Bulldogs face a tough three game stretch with ballgames against the top three teams in the district starting at Richland (14-1, 7-1) on Thursday in a makeup game.
Friday night is Homecoming in Cornersville versus Columbia Academy (13-2, 7-1) and on Tuesday, Mount Pleasant (11-4, 6-2) makes the trip to Cornersville.
"We have played really well the past few games and have played together as a team," Allen said. "We have executed our game plans each game really well and have done what we have had to do to win."
"We just have to keep playing together and executing the game plan. We have to step up without coach Hagan at the helm and we have a great chance to make a statement in these next three games."
Cornersville 8 22 17 23-70
Santa Fe 5 12 14 6-43
Cornersville (70): Michael Allen 18, Austin Ridinger 12, Tyler Wolaver 11, Eli Woodard 8, Alexander Stewart 6, Marques Martin 6, Cam Whitaker 5, Henlee Mitchell 4
3-point goals (4): Wolaver 2, Allen, Whitaker
Santa Fe (43): Nick Humphrey 10, Jeremy Dotson 10, Garrett Mills 8, Quinton Hemphill 7, Kahill Graves 4, Tyler Kelly 2, Logan Wilkens 1, Jon Paul Caudle 1
3-point goals (4): Mills 2, Humphrey 2
Halftime score: Cornersville 30, Santa Fe 17