Bulldogs hang tough, fall to CA
Following a tough 35-point loss to Richland the previous night, the Cornersville Bulldogs returned home to southern Marshall County for another monumental task against Columbia Academy (15-2, 9-1), who is tied with Richland for first place in the district with one loss.
And despite the wide variance in records for the two Bulldog clubs, Cornersville (5-11, 5-5) had Columbia Academy on the ropes, down just 33-30 with 5:21 remaining in the third quarter before CA pulled away for the 67-39 win.
"Columbia Academy is just a really good team," assistant coach Louis Scheuchenzuber said. "I don't think it was anything negative we did (in the third quarter), they probably just picked it up to another level."
"They're one of the teams favored to make it to the state tournament, so I thought our kids played as hard as they could," Scheuchenzuber continued. "They did a great job executing the game plan for the vast majority of the game. I can't fault them for anything they did tonight."
The Bulldogs were led by freshman Tyler Wolaver with 12 points, four rebounds, and three assists and Austin Ridinger came off the bench for another stellar performance with 12 points and four rebounds.
Columbia Academy was paced by Nygil Arms with 18 points on three triples and Blake Kincaid with 13 points.
"I think everyone expected us to go in and lose this game, but for the most part we played hard," Wolaver said. "We had a pretty tough loss against Richland yesterday so today we just came out strong and that's what our game plan was."
Eli Woodard knocked down a first quarter 3-pointer to close an early gap to 6-5 and Wolaver knocked down a jumper at the top of the key to give Cornersville its first lead of the game at 7-6.
With 1:45 remaining in the quarter, Marques Martin grabbed an offensive rebound and fed Ridinger for an easy layup and a 9-6 edge.
Jackson DeJarnette knocked down two free throws to hand the lead back to CA and another visitor's basket pushed the lead to 12-9 at the end of one quarter.
If Columbia Academy expected Cornersville to fade away in the second period they were badly mistaken as Wolaver knocked down a triple to cut the lead to 14-12 and Henlee Mitchell grabbed an offensive rebound two plays later to keep the lead manageable at 18-14.
CA started to pull away on back-to-back triples from Carson Cary and Arms for its biggest lead of the game at 26-16, but Cornersville clawed its way back with two Wolaver jumpers before Ridinger hit a layup and knocked down a trifecta to cut the lead back down to 28-23.
Blake Kincaid drained a three just before halftime to give CA a little breathing room in a tighter than expected 31-23 game at the break.
"Hard work and playing together led to such a good first half," Ridinger said. "We played as a team tonight and it really meant a lot to everyone."
Wolaver started the second half off with an offensive rebound and layup to cut the lead to 31-25 and two possessions later Cam Whitaker sent the crowd into a frenzy with a 3-pointer that sliced the academy's lead down to 33-30 with just over five minutes remaining in the third period, forcing CA coach Marty DeJarnette to call a timeout to settle his players down.
A different CA team took the floor after the timeout, forcing Cornersville into eight turnovers in 10 possessions to pull away.
Cornersville scored nine more points after cutting the lead to three points and Columbia Academy ended the game on a 34-9 run.
"We got tired," Wolaver said. "We'd been playing them hard through the first half so once we get better and better we'll be able to hang with them for four quarters."
The Bulldogs next chance at an upset will come on Tuesday night when Cornersville hosts the second place Mount Pleasant in a game which coach Matt Hagan will be back on the bench following a two-game suspension.
Columbia Academy 12 19 17 19-67
Cornersville 9 14 9 7-39
Columbia Academy (67): Nygil Arms 18, Blake Kincaid 13, Marshall McKee 11, Carson Cary 7, Jackson DeJarnette 6, Riley Walker 3, Sky Polk 3, Drew Logsdan 2, Chase Butterfield 2, Walker Gailbraith 2
3-point goals (8): Arms 3, Walker, Polk, Cary, Kincaid, DeJarnette
Cornersville (39): Tyler Wolaver 12, Austin Ridinger 12, Cam Whitaker 5, Henlee Mitchell 3, Eli Woodard 3, Alexander Stewart 2, Tanner Reese 2
3-point goals (5): Wolaver 2, Whitaker, Woodard, Ridinger
Halftime score: Columbia Academy 31, Cornersville 23