Bulldogs beat Zion in non-conference contest

Friday, February 3, 2017
Cornersville's Henlee Mitchell (10), who scored 13 points and grabbed four rebounds, releases a floater over the Zion defense in the Bulldogs' 12-point win Monday night. Tribune photos by Mike Inglsbee

The Cornersville Bulldogs picked up a huge district win on Friday night over Culleoka, a team it had lost to early in the season and Monday night the Bulldogs had another chance to exact revenge for an earlier loss when Zion Christian came to town.

The Bulldogs (7-12) lost to the Eagles (10-9) by 18-points despite leading the majority of the first half during an early season matchup in Columbia, but Cornersville has improved mightily in the meantime and handled Zion for the better part of the contest on the way to a 65-53 win.

"We've played a lot better teams since the first time we played them," Cornersville point guard Henlee Mitchell stated. "We played them the fourth game of the season and we've got a lot more experience coming in tonight."

"Our guys played really good tonight," Mitchell continued. "Everybody that came off the bench supported us really well and we just played an all-around a good game."

The Bulldogs were led by Austin Ridinger with 17 points and four rebounds, Mitchell added 13 points and four rebounds, and Tyler Wolaver finished with eight points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.

"Experience got us the win tonight," Wolaver said. "We've come a long way this season and even longer since last season. Our ball movement and making shots helped us get the win tonight."

Jackson South led the Eagles with 14 points and Chandler Parker and Briggs Rutter each chipped in 11 points to lead the Eagles and Demondrez McClain added 10.

The two squads battled back and forth during the opening frame with a Mitchell three giving the Bulldogs its first lead at 11-9 with 1:02 left in the stanza.

Parker knocked down a triple on the next possession to reclaim the lead, but Wolaver drove in and scored a layup with 11 seconds left in the period to take a 13-12 lead into the second quarter.

Austin Ridinger (24) powers home a second half layup against Zion Christian for two of his team-leading 17 points for the Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs distanced themselves from Zion in the second period led by eight Ridinger and five Michael Allen points as the home team outscored the Eagles 21-14 in the frame for an eight-point halftime lead.

Unlike the first matchup between the squads, the Bulldogs continued to dominate the second half as Allen scored a layup, followed by two Ridinger layups to open up the biggest Cornersville lead of the game at 44-30 with 3:29 remaining in the third quarter.

Sam Boyd and Rutter knocked down back-to-back triples to end the third quarter and cut the lead down 48-41, but the final period started with a Mitchell layup and two more Ridinger lay-ins to push the lead to 58-48 with three minutes remaining.

The Bulldogs opened the door for an Eagle come back by shooting 7-for-21 from the charity stripe in the final period, but Kolbe McMahon came off the bench to knock down two clutch free throws and feed Jackson Mitchell for a layup as time wound down to secure the 12-point win.

Zion Christian 12 14 15 12-53

Cornersville 13 21 14 17-65

Zion Christian (53): Jackson South 14, Briggs Rutter 11, Chandler Parker 11, Demondrez McClain 10, Sam Boyd 3, Austin French 2, Mark Lowrey 2

3-point goals (6): Parker 3, McClain, Boyd, Rutter

Cornersville (65): Austin Ridinger 17, Henlee Mitchell 13, Michael Allen 10, Tyler Wolaver 8, Cam Whitaker 7, Eli Woodard 6, Kolbe McMahon 2, Jackson Mitchell 2

3-point goals (1): Mitchell

Halftime score: Cornersville 34, Zion Christian 26