Bulldogs fall at Collinwood
A fourth place finish in the District 11A Tournament put the Cornersville Bulldogs on the long road to Wayne County to face Collinwood (20-9), who won the 12A tournament after tying with Loretto for second place during the regular season.
Cornersville (8-18) made the region for the first time in six years after more than doubling its win total of the past two seasons combined, but was in too deep against the Trojans, going down 39-15 at the half before falling 80-64 to end the season.
"I knew these guys were good," CHS coach Matt Hagan said. "I mean the basketball over here is great. They've got four guys that can drive and shoot the three. They've got a big kid that can shoot and can play on the post."
"So offensively I knew they might be hard to stop because if they drive and you step over to help they kick it back out for three's," Hagan continued. "My intention was to keep them from getting a limited amount of possessions. I wanted them to have 40 (possessions) and they wanted to have 80. And I think they got somewhere around that."
Freshman Tyler Wolaver led the Bulldogs with 13 points and senior Michael Allen went out with a bang with 12 points and nine rebounds.
"The first half killed us with the turnovers and they were getting too many offensive boards," Wolaver said. "But other than that we should have put it to them, but just started off to slow."
Senior Austin Ridinger added eight points and three boards, Cam Whitaker turned in eight points, and Eli Woodard chipped in four points and six assists.
Charles Wood led five Trojans players in double figures with 18 points while Kedron Hensley, Ashton Daniel and Brylie Fisher added 12 points, and Ty Robertson contributed 11.
"They're a very good ball team and as much as we tried to stick to our game plan of holding the ball and make them play at our pace, we weren't successful," Allen said. "They're a very good team at making teams play at their pace and that's what they did tonight."
The Bulldogs pulled to within 20 twice in the third period after falling behind by over 30 midway through the second quarter, but a flurry of turnovers allowed the Trojans to push the lead back 27 heading into the final period.
"Second half I told the kids we're going out swinging," Hagen stated. "We're gonna get it, push it, swing it and I'm gonna sub in rapidly. Give it all you've got for three minutes and we're gonna press them hard. I was proud of the effort in the second half."
The Bulldogs outscored the Trojans 49-41 in the second half and 26-15 in the final period behind eight Ridinger points and six points from Marques Martin, but a stagnant first quarter ultimately doomed Cornersville.
The Trojans started the contest out on an 11-2 run and ended the initial quarter up 24-6 behind nine Robertson points.
The Bulldogs finally trimmed the lead to 20 points on a Kolbe McMahon steal and layup midway through the third, but the Trojans ended the third quarter with a 13-6 run to all but decide the game before the start of the fourth.
The Trojans move on to face Loretto (20-8), who upset Richland (24-4) in Lynnville on Saturday.
District 12A won three out of four games against 11A in the opening round of the region tournament with only number one seed Columbia Academy beating four-seed Perry County by 20 points.
"Under coach Hagan we did a very good job and we did what we wanted to do," Allen said. "We made it into the region tournament. I wish we could have made it further, but we'll take baby steps because this team next year has the chance to do something special."
"Coach Hagan came in and persuaded us that we can be whatever we wanted to be and we had seniors that were leaders," Wolaver added. "We just had an all-around good team with one mindset. We came out strong this year and hopefully even stronger next year."
Cornersville 6 9 23 26-64
Collinwood 24 15 26 15-80
Cornersville (64): Tyler Wolaver 13, Michael Allen 12, Austin Ridinger 8, Cam Whitaker 8, Henlee Mitchell 7, Marques Martin 6, Kolbe McMahon 6, Eli Woodard 4
3-point goals (4): Wolaver, Allen, Mitchell, Whitaker
Collinwood (80): Charles Wood 18, Brylie Fisher 12, Ashton Daniel 12, Kedron Hensley 12, Ty Robertson 11, Austin Reeves 8, Tayvon Jordan 4, Carter Hinton 1, Keithan Risner 1, Noah Hollis 1
3-point goals (9): Wood 4, Fisher 2, Reeves Robertson, Hensley
Halftime score: Collinwood 39, Cornersville 15