Bulldogs win big over Raiders secure region berth
The Cornersville Bulldogs came into Tuesday night’s win or go home, first round District 8-A Tournament game against a familiar foe in Moore County with the two teams splitting the regular season series.
With the season on the line at Wartrace, Cornersville went straight for the jugular and built a 14-point halftime lead that eventually expanded to 25 points in the fourth quarter.
The big lead allowed the Bulldogs to cycle in the reserves as they won going away, 63-44.
"We match up well with Moore County," Bulldog coach Matt Hagan said. "They don't do a lot of pressuring. They don't put you in too many situations where you're hurried.”
“We shared the ball well. Darian had a big night. Some others knocked down shots and we defended well for the most part."
Bulldog guard Darian Bush turned in a massive game with 28 points and five assists, Tyler Wolaver finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds, and off guard Eli Woodard continues to come on strong down the stretch with 11 points and four rebounds.
"Now, we've got our chemistry back together and our practices are getting better," Wolaver said. "We're playing better defensively, moving the ball better and we're just playing better all-around at the right time."
The first quarter set the tone for the entire game as Bush knocked down three triples for 11 of the 13 first quarter points with Cornersville taking a 13-6 lead.
Wolaver got in on the action with four straight points to start the second quarter and Bush continued to dog the Raiders with another triple and a steal and layup to push the lead to 26-10 with three minutes left in the first half.
Woodard would score a layup on the inbound pass and the Bulldogs went into the break with a comfortable 28-14 advantage.
"I told them 'we'll win this game unless we beat ourselves'", Hagan said. "We've got to stay in front of them, limit them to one shot, don't gamble on defense and just make sure you move the ball and get a good shot."
The Raiders threatened to start the third quarter as Nate Love hit a jumper off the inbound pass to trim the deficit to 28-18 with 5:55 remaining in the third quarter but the Bulldogs awoke from its halftime slumber with a Woodard triple and another Bush long distance bomb to extend the lead back to 14 at 36-22 with 3:47 left in the stanza.
The Bulldogs’ onslaught continued with a Wolaver three from the top of the key and with 20 seconds remaining in the third Kolbe McMahon stole a Raider pass and hit a wide open Bush in the corner for the junior’s sixth triple on the night to push the lead to 46-25 with 20 seconds remaining.
The fourth quarter offered much of the same with a Wolaver steal and layup extending the lead to 54-29 before Hagan started sending in the substitutes.
With a Region 4-A Tournament berth wrapped up for the second year in a row after the Bulldogs (7-16) won just one game in 2015-16, the maroon and white feel confident in playing the role of giant killer in the district semifinals Friday against top-ranked Fayetteville (16-9).
"You know, we're really excited for this game," Wolaver said. "We've got something special we're gonna throw at them. We're ready for this game."
Cornersville 13 15 18 17-63
Moore County 6 8 1119-44
Cornersville (63): Darian Bush 28, Tyler Wolaver 15, Eli Woodard 11, Bryce Hagan 4, Kolbe McMahon 2, Henlee Mitchell 2, Caleb Crowell 1.
3-Point goals (8): Bush 6, Woodard, Wolaver.
Moore County (44): Nate Love 12, Clay Burnett 8, Andrew Copeland 8, Garrett Jennings 5, Dylan Knight 4, Evan McKenzie 4, Ethan Holt 3.
3-Point goals (3): Burnett 2, Holt.
Halftime Score: Cornersville 28, Moore County 14.