2017 Cornersville Boys Basketball preview
2017 Cornersville Boys Basketball preview
Hagan, Bulldogs want more
The bad taste of the one-win season in 2015-16 was wiped out under new coach Matt Hagan with an eight-win 2016-17 that featured a near .500 (6-8) district mark and a unexpected push to the region tournament.
The Bulldogs beat a Grace Christian-Franklin team by 19 points in the opening round of the district tournament after the Lions thumped Cornersville just over a week earlier by 22 points.
The Bulldogs also played the then top-ranked 1A team in the state, Richland to the brink before falling by just eight points.
This year expectations are quite higher.
Simply put, the Bulldogs are stacked.
The biggest test will be whether coach Hagan can successfully blend a large amount of football players in with the year-round basketball players.
"Weíve played with each other for a while so chemistry is not an issue," junior guard Henlee Mitchell said. "We have to be more sound as a unit, we canít turn the ball over."
Best case scenario, the football players bring the confidence from a first-ever state championship appearance to the hardwood.
"Yes, with so much success we had on the football field you want the same in the next sport," junior point guard Eli Woodard stated. "Because when you are winning you donít want to lose in anything."
The number one option on offense will be sophomore Tyler Wolaver, who joined the team at the end of his eighth grade year.
Wolaver flourished as a freshman, starting the whole season and putting a huge offensive numbers for a first-year player.
Wolaver dropped 16 points in an early season win versus Hampshire and closed the year with 13 points versus Collinwood in the region tournament.
Big things will be expected from Wolaver, who can step out and hit the three and drive to the bucket and finish with authority.
The guard combo of Woodard and fellow junior Cameron Whitaker, who have both started since freshman year, will again be a focal point of the Bulldog offense.
Woodard, who is a heady ball handler, can set the team up on offense but also score in bunches as evidenced in an 18-point performance against Zion Christian early in the year.
"I think so much depth we have this year is a big part in helping us not get tired and throw the ball away making lazy passes," Woodard offered.
Whitaker, the typical scoring two guard, can step outside and stroke the three or drive to the hoop, along with handling pressure.
Whitaker had big games with 12 points and two triples against Culleoka and dropped 10 points against Grace Christian.
Mitchell stepped into a starting role midway through last season and came away with some huge performances.
A classic pass-first point guard, Mitchell can still step out from long range along with a dangerous mid-range attack.
Mitchell broke out with a 13-point game in a late-season win over Zion Christian and helped spur the district opening win over Grace Christian with nine points.
"We are a fast team, we wanna run and beat teams in transition," Mitchell said. "Basketball season isnít the only time we play, our team has a great bond with each other."
Helping in the back court will be senior Kolbe McMahon and Marques Martin.
McMahon missed most of his junior season with injuries, but came up huge in the district tournament win over Grace Christian with a 14-point outburst,
Martin is a decent outside shooter with a nice mid-range and a great ability to drive and find the open shooter.
Senior Bryce Hagan is a classic inside-outside combo, but missed the majority of his junior season with injuries after a great start.
Cameron Gardner also found some spot-starts last season and will provide instant offense and tough defense on the floor.
Alexander Stewart might be the Bulldogs tallest player but also might be the best shooter.
Stewart can hit the three and also has a nice mid-range jump shot and never misses a free throw.
The Bulldogs are lean on the inside and will rely on Devin Baus and Caleb Crowell to provide the muscle for Cornersville.
Baus, while rarely putting up big points, does the dirty work down low and often leads the team in rebounds.
The junior forward has occasional offensive spurts, like a six-point effort in the district tournament opener versus Grace.
Crowell, an all-district catcher on the baseball team, will provide some much needed depth on the inside for the Bulldogs this season.
The biggest newcomer for the Bulldogs will be Darien Bush, who sat out last season as a transfer from Giles County.
Bush has superior ball-handling skills and can knock down the open shot when his feet get set.
The Bulldogs fit nicely in the new district when all the right pieces align but have yet to play a complete game.
If coach Hagan can get this huge collection of talent and athleticism to play together by the time district play rolls around, the sky is the limit for this Bulldog team.
2017 Cornersville Bulldogs
Travis J. Robinson
|Tuesday, Nov. 14||Culleoka (HOF) W 52-41|
|Friday, Nov. 17||Mount Pleasant (HOF)|
|Tuesday, Nov. 28||Richland Home L 48-36|
|Friday, Dec. 1||Zion Christian L 79-50|
|Tuesday, Dec. 5||Hampshire L 63-61|
|Friday, Dec. 8||at Mount Pleasant|
|Tuesday, Dec. 12||at Hampshire|
|Friday, Dec.15||at Richland|
|Tuesday, Dec. 19||at Zion Christian|
|Thursday, Dec. 28||Richland Christmas Classic Richland TBD|
|Friday, Dec. 29||Richland Christmas Classic Richland TBD|
|Friday, Jan. 5||at Cascade D|
|Tuesday, Jan. 9||Eagleville D|
|Friday, Jan. 12||at Moore County D|
|Tuesday, Jan. 16||Fayetteville D|
|Friday, Jan. 19||at Huntland D|
|Tuesday, Jan. 23||Cascade D|
|Friday, Jan. 26||at Eagleville D|
|Tuesday, Jan. 30||Moore County D|
|Friday, Feb. 2||at Fayetteville D|
|Tuesday, Feb. 6||Huntland Home D|
|Thursday, Feb. 8||at Culleoka|
|February 12-17||District 8A Tournament at Eagleville|
|February 23-March 1||Region 4A Tournament|