HOLLY POND — The "Fast32" strategy was in full effect Wednesday night in game one of the annual Holly Pond Thanksgiving Tournament. Gage Goodwin got the Bearcats started early with a defensive rebound against Brindlee Mountain and a coast to coast layup for the first points of the game.
A quick four seconds later, he swiped the ball and went the length of the floor again for the easy bucket. Cullman covered the entirety of the floor with a blanket-like press that forced turnovers and held Brindlee Mountain scoreless until Hunter Green knocked down a three, four and a half minutes into the first quarter.
Cullman fired back with four quick points, but Brindlee Mountain finished the quarter on a 7-3 run to finish the quarter. After one, Cullman owned a slim 13-10 lead.
Points came fast and furious in the second with both teams tickling the twine, but it was the outside shooting from the Cats that stretched the lead from three to nine midway through the second frame. The two teams battled to a virtual stalemate for the rest of the quarter with
Cullman taking a 33-26 advantage to the locker room.
Brindlee Mountain started the third with a flurry and cut Cullman's lead to as little as three, but the Bearcats settled down quickly and pushed their lead to 10 heading to the final eight minutes.
The Brindlee Mountain offense outperformed Cullman from the floor on the fourth, but free throws did them in. The Bearcats were 11 of 14 from the charity stripe in the fourth to seal the victory 67-54.
West Point 41 — Arab 53
The first four minutes were marred by missed shots and turnovers galore but, after a feeling out process where both teams looked for their footing, West Point and Arab both started to pour in the points. Each side scored 12 with the first quarter ending in a stalemate.
Arab took their first lead of the game with 6:00 left in the second when Jack Richey hit one of two free throws for a 13-12 advantage. He extended the lead 40 seconds later with a drive to the hole and a layup. He had another easy bucket on the next play and forced a West Point time-out. His play sparked a 9-4 run and a 21-17 lead going to the half.
West Point played solid on the offense end and were smothering on defense. They spent the entire quarter chipping away at the at the Knights lead, pulling ahead at the buzzer to snag a 31-30 lead going to the fourth.
Arab took the lead once more, hitting a put back offensive board to start the final quarter and would never relinquish it. The big board led to a 8-2 run, a five-point lead and a time-out from West Point to stem the bleeding.
The Warriors scored quickly out of the time-out, but Richey responded for Arab to keep the lead at five. West Point had the answers inside but back to back threes coupled with a pair of free throws put the game away. Final score Arab 53, West Point 41.
Fairview 51 — Pennington 56
Both the Fairview Aggies and Pennington Tigers were ice cold from the field in the first. The two teams combined to go 0-11 from the field in the first four minutes of play. However, both teams were stellar from the free throw line and started to find their rhythm toward the end of the quarter. Thanks to a last second turn around hook from Jessie Stevens, Pennington snatched a 13-11 advantage at the end of one.
In stark contrast to the first quarter, both teams shot well in the second, both inside and out. This led to a close game heading to the half, Pennington clinging to a 29-28 lead. The third was a defensive battle with neither team willing to give an inch. Fairview captured the lead 41-39 with two seconds left in the third, setting up a thrilling fourth quarter finish.
The Aggies extended their lead a minute into the fourth, prompting a Pennington time-out. The Tigers answered quickly with a three out of the stoppage to cut the lead to one.
The points would go back and forth with each team flip-flopping the lead, Fairview in front 51-50 when a time-out was called with 1:15 left to play. The Tigers took the lead back with a quick bucket inside and held the lead 52-51 with 46.4 left in a nail-biter of a game.
Fairview missed the shot on their end and were forced to foul. Christian Baker knocked down both free throws to extend the lead to five and put the game out of reach. Final score Pennington 56 Fairview 51.
Holly Pond 72 — Hartselle 45
The final, and arguably the most anticipated, game of the night featured the Holly Pond Broncos and the Hartselle Tigers and it did not disappoint.
From the opening tip, controlled by Hartselle, it was a whirlwind of fast breaks, blocked shots and deep threes. After the dust had settled, Holly Pond showed why they are so good on their home court, establishing a 20-14 lead.
The Bronco defense was on lockdown in the second quarter. They held Hartselle to just a pair of points five minutes into the second frame while dropping in eight to double the lead to 12. The play continued to be back and forth for the rest of the quarter with Holly Pond taking the 32-22 lead to the locker room at the half.
The Broncos steadily increased their lead through the first four minutes of the third with tremendous outside shooting, going up 18 and forcing a Tiger time-out. Coming out of the time-out, Holly Pond pushed the lead to as much as 25 but Hartselle finished the quarter with a flurry but still trailed 55-35 heading to the last stanza. Holly Pond continued their dominance in the fourth, scoring at will, and taking the game 72-45.