Bulldogs drop initial District 8-A matchup
The Cornersville Bulldogs got manhandled in both meetings with Eagleville last season with a 31-point loss to open the season and a 19-point thumping at home to end the regular season before Cornersville moved into the Eagles district for 2017-18.
Cornersville coach Matt Hagan was looking for his team to feed off the momentum of dominating Cascade in a hostile Wartrace environment in the district opener last week in the showdown with Eagleville on Tuesday.
The second-year coach almost got his wish as the Bulldogs (3-10, 1-1) stayed neck and neck with the visitors and even pulled within two in the final quarter before Eagleville (9-8, 2-0) pulled away late in the fourth period to claim the 61-52 win.
"I was happy because Eagleville is usually a transition team that gets a lot of layups, so I was happy that we didn't let them do that much," CHS coach Matt Hagan said. "I was happy that the guys weren't afraid and they competed. We made them nervous and we could have won the ballgame. Bottom line, we could have won the game."
The Bulldogs had huge opportunities in the second half to take the lead, but just could not come up with a play at the right moment.
After two Kolbe McMahon free throws cut the lead to 31-29 with 4:25 in the third quarter, the Bulldogs came up empty on five straight possessions with a chance to tie or take the lead before the Eagles finally pushed the lead back to a two possession game.
The Bulldogs continue to struggle from behind the arc, going 5-for-18 from downtown as a miserable showing of 4-of-41 at the Richland Christmas Tournament continued.
Cornersville also turned in a subpar effort from a ball control standpoint, turning the ball over 18 times but handing out just nine assists for a 1:2 assist to turnover ratio.
"We've got to finish," Bulldog point guard Darian Bush, who led the team with 21 points, five rebounds, and three assists, said. "We came out and was down just three points going into halftime and we could've cut the lead to one, but I turned the ball over with five seconds left and I can't do that. We've got to do the small things right."
Despite all the small things that went wrong, one thing that did go right was the Bulldog player’s effort throughout the night.
The Eagles went up by 10 points twice in the fourth quarter, but the players did not give up and trimmed the lead back down to a one possession ballgame both times.
Unfortunately, the Bulldogs were never able to make the move to gain control.
"We had about four or five straight possessions that weren't good possessions at crucial times," Hagan pointed out. "We went in there and tried to force something or took bad shots and then didn't get back on defense. Usually bad shots for us lead to good shots for the other team. We're struggling with that a little bit this year."
The Bulldogs picked up an amazing game from Bush who caught fire in the second half with 17 of his 21 points in the final two periods to go along with a solid 13 points from Tyler Wolaver and a three straight double figure ballgame from transitioned post McMahon, who finished with 11 points.
The Eagles were led by 19 points from Mari Stoudemire and 15 points from Ethan Cobb.
The Bulldogs have a good chance to make up ground in the district race with a matchup against two-win Moore County and three-win Huntland sandwiched around a game against first place Fayetteville before the Eagles and Cornersville square off again in Rutherford County.
"(Eagleville) is a really good rebounding team and we were able to get on the boards with them," Bush said. "We limited our turnovers and passed the ball well. I think we could have come out with the win if we could have just finished our layups. Next time we need to make the easy shots if we want to come out with the win."
Eagleville 10 14 21 16-61
Cornersville 8 13 19 12-52
Eagleville (52): Mari Stoudemire 19, Ethan Cobb 15, Jordan Davenport 10, Caleb Brown 7, Graham Hatcher 3, Bryson Kelley 2, James Burnett 2, Chevy Sutton 2.
3-Point Goals (8): Davenport 3, Stoudemire 2, Brown 2, Hatcher.
Cornersville (52): Darian Bush 21, Tyler Wolaver 13, Kolbe McMahon 11, Eli Woodard 5, Henlee Mitchell 2.
3-Point Goals (4): Bush 2, Wolaver, Woodard.
Halftime: Eagleville 24, Cornersville 21.