Needing a win to stay in contention for the Class 5A, Area 15 regular season title, the Cullman Bearcats got what they needed Tuesday night in a very entertaining fashion.
Cullman soared over rival Hartselle 104-77, scoring the most points in one game in front of the home crowd this season. The Bearcats were knocking down shots from the beginning until the end with 25 points in the first period, 28 in the second, 27 during the third and 24 to finish off their most productive game in area play.
Now 3-1 in the area standings, the Bearcats take their high scoring machine to West Point Friday night for another area battle. Bobby Meyer's team is trying to hang around with area leader East Limestone who is 4-0.
East comes to Cullman on Jan. 17 with the Bearcats needing a win that evening along with the upcoming West Point game to try and gain home court advantage for the area tournament that will be in early February.
The shooting was superb after the first 4:00 with Cullman on top 16-2. They allowed Hartselle two free throws in that span with the scoring coming from several players including point guard Lawson Schaffer.
A three-point play by Schaffer in the early moments of the second period gave him over 1,000 points in his career with another year left to play for coach Meyer. Cullman was ahead 28-19 at the time Schaffer punched his name into the Bearcat scoring book for the great accomplishment.
Eight of the nine Bearcats were in the scoring column by halftime as Cullman held a 53-35 lead. Schaffer had 15 by the break with Lane Donaldson and Lee Mattox scoring eight. The 'Cats were hot from long range with nine treys through the first 16 minutes.
As the game moved into the third period, the 'Cats went on a 27-17 spurt and extended the lead to 80-52.
Cullman was up by 32 late in the quarter and on the verge of getting the final period to experience the running clock rule if the 'Cats were able to lead by 30 going into the fourth.
It never happened. Hartselle went on a 14-2 run and had cut the margin to 82-66 with over 5:00 still to play.
Coach Meyer sent Scahaffer back into the game as he would finish the night with 23 points. He now has 1,012 in his career.
A big fourth period from Auston Neal with eight points gave him 15 to create balanced scoring for Cullman, now 13-6. Donaldson scored 11 while Seth Swalve and Mattox added 10, Keaton Dean, Austin Beck and Jason McAffee nine and Chase Slocomb eight.
Leading Hartselle was Tobias Mitchell with 17, Jalen Jackson 16 and Dolan Golden 10.
Cullman girls 47, Hartselle 38:
Shooting 10 of 11 from the foul line in the fourth, the Lady Bearcats were able to turn a 29-26 lead against Hartselle into some breathing room and improve to 9-6 for the season.
Now 3-1 in the area, the Lady 'Cats were ahead 24-13 at halftime in facing Hartselle for the third time in a span of three weeks. Cullman won at Hartselle 44-37 on Dec. 20 and posted a 43-19 win in the semifinals of the Yule Tide Classic at Wallace State a week later.
Hartselle fought back behind its leading weapon, sharpshooter Allie Roden. She along with Riley Terry knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in the third and the Lady Tigers were back in business, cutting the deficit to 29-26.
Coach Jonathan Hayes' team got six players to score in the fourth as they ended the game on an 18-12 run, shooting 90 percent at the line in the final stanza.
Christina Skinner was three of four in the period with Baylee Johnson, Madison Cobbs, Oakleigh White and Carrie Evans going two for two.
Johnson's 13 directed a balanced attack with Skinner scoring 10, eight coming in the fourth, White and Hayden Short with nine, Cobbs, Evans and Laura Lindsay two and Kaitlyn Brannon one.
Terry produced 10 of her 18 points in the fourth for the visitors with Roden finishing the game scoring a dozen, hitting three times from long range.