Lions beat Bulldogs in 11A battle
Coming off an eight-point loss to tenth-ranked Richland (21-1) on Tuesday, Friday night’s game against Grace Christian-Franklin had major District 11A Tournament implications for the Cornersville Bulldogs.
Beat the Lions, whom Cornersville had previously beaten by 20 points in an earlier meeting at Franklin, and the Bulldogs would claim fourth place outright.
Lose to the Lions and the Bulldogs would be locked in a three-way tie with Grace Christian (7-16, 6-8) and Culleoka (8-15, 6-8) for fourth place in the final league standings.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs the earlier 20-point win against the Lions and great game against Richland gave Cornersville (7-14, 6-8) a false sense of confidence.
After being down 23-2 in the first quarter, Grace Christian handed the Bulldogs a resounding 69-47 loss.
The Bulldogs will now have to rely on a drawing to claim fourth place and avoid a possible matchup with Mount Pleasant (16-6, 10-4) in the loser-go-home first round game in the district tournament.
"We got down 23-2 and that really hurt us," CHS coach Matt Hagan said. "We just got taken to the woodshed, that's the bottom line. I really felt like our kids weren't ready to play and that's my job."
"They basically went out there and got punched in the mouth," Hagan added. "Probably more like 10 punches."
The Bulldogs were led by Freshman Tyler Wolaver with 11 points, four rebounds, and three steals and Cam Whitaker who finished with 10 points on two 3-pointers to go along with three rebounds, and two assists.
Michael Allen added five points and five rebounds and Eli Woodard came off the bench to contribute six points.
"We overlooked them is the main thing," Wolaver said. "We didn't rebound well and we didn't do what we were supposed to. We beat them pretty bad the first time around and we came in thinking that we were just going to win and obviously it didn't turn out that way."
The Lions were led by Mason McKnott with 23 points and six 3-pointers and Austin Kosick with 13 points on three treys.
The Lions started the game blazing hot from the field, going ahead 10-2 on a Kosick 3-pointer, followed by a Cole Stuart bucket, another Kosick triple, and a Mason McDermott trifecta to push the score to 21-2 with 56 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs finally broke through with a Wolaver runner off the glass with six seconds remaining in the opening period to cut the score to 23-4.
Cornersville made headway in the second quarter starting with a Wolaver drive and layup, followed by a Whitaker triple to cut the lead to 26-9 and after Kosick's third three of the half, Marques Martin grabbed an offensive rebound and scored a layup to pull CV within 26-11.
The Lions answered with two McKnott 3-pointers to extend its lead to 36-15 at the break.
"We started too late and got behind 20 points," Whitaker said. "We missed a few layups and that can't happen if we want to compete. We weren't getting out there on their 3-pointers in the first half."
The Bulldogs fought back in the second half starting with a Henlee Mitchell three and cut the lead to 13-points with 4:28 remaining in the third period and finally closed to within 10 points on a Wolaver drive and bucket with 48 seconds left in the quarter.
But every time the Bulldogs made a run the Lions had an answer and after Whitaker pulled Cornersville back to within 12-points on a 3-pointer two minutes into the fourth period, Grace answered with a 17-10 run to end the game for the 22-point win.
"They did a good job moving the ball and to be honest, they are a well-coached team," Hagan said. "They had shots when we played them in Franklin, but they just didn't make them. They made them tonight."
"We fought back and found a few things that were working, but I was disappointed that we can still fall back into overlooking a team," Hagan added.
Grace Christian 23 13 11 22-69
Cornersville 4 11 20 12-47
Grace Christian (69):Mason McKnott 23, Austin Kosick 13, Cole Stuart 10, Jayce Brown 8, Grant Solomon 5, Trey Burchfield 4, Jake Boesinger 2, Gavin Johnson 2, Martin Cash 2
3-point goals (11): McKnott 6, Kosick 3, Brown 2
Cornersville (47): Tyler Wolaver 11, Cam Whitaker 10, Eli Woodard 6, Henlee Mitchell 5, Michael Allen 5, Kolbe McMahon 3, Marques Martin 2, Austin Ridinger 2, Devin Baus 2, Cam Garner 1
3-point goals (4): Whitaker 2, Mitchell, Woodard
Halftime score: Grace Christian 36, Cornersville 15