PREP BASKETBALL: Sullins’ fourth quarter lifts Cullman over Brewer, Lady Bearcats suffer first loss of the season

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Jayden Sullins scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to help the Bearcats pull away in their win against Brewer Thursday night. (Nick Griffin for the Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN – Points were tough to come by in both of Cullman’s Thursday night matchups against Brewer and as a result, the Bearcats split their games with the Patriots. Jayden Sullins’ 12 fourth-quarter points helped lead the boys' team past Brewer 60-49, but the Lady Bearcats fell 53-42 in their first loss of the season.

Brewer 53 – Cullman 42 (varsity girls)

Turnovers were the theme of the night for the Lady Bearcats and they struggled to get on the scoreboard for most of the night. Cullman kept things close in the first half despite a poor start offensively but a 10-1 run from the Lady Patriots to close out the second quarter gave them a commanding 28-19 lead at the half.

Offensive rebounds and second-chance points kept the Lady Bearcats in it during the third quarter, but they still couldn’t get any outside shots to fall and they went into the final frame trailing 36-27. Two quick buckets cut the lead to four and a layup from Anna Grace Murphy at the 4:00 mark made it a 38-36 ballgame.

Turnovers continued to plague the Lady Bearcats as they weren’t able to get anything going consistently on the offensive end. The Lady Patriots put the game away at the free-throw line as they pulled away to hand Cullman its first loss of the season.

Anna Katherine Eastman led the Lady Bearcats with 12 points in the loss. Cullman is now 7-1 on the year and will look to get back in the win column when they host Jasper Friday night.

Cullman 60 – Brewer 49 (varsity boys)

Both teams struggled to get on the board early in this one. A fast-paced, physical game began with the Patriots on top 13-11 after the first quarter but a late run in the second period would give Cullman the lead at the break.

It was a tie game or a one-possession game for most of the second half. Both teams continued to play hard on the defensive end and the Bearcats were actually held scoreless until midway through the third quarter when Robert Goolsby got a layup to fall. Jaden Orr added some points off the bench as well, knocking down a three to put Cullman up 36-34 late in the third. The Patriots were able to retake the lead at 40-39 before the end of the quarter but the final period belonged to the Bearcats.

A basket from JT White put Cullman up 45-42 early in the quarter and then it was time for Jayden Sullins to take over and put the game away. Sullins scored 12 of his game-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, including an and-one layup that he was able to convert at the free-throw line late in the game. The basket put the Bearcats up 56-49 with two minutes to play and two more free throws from Noah Bussman at the 1:15 mark gave Cullman an insurmountable 58-49 lead. Two more free throws from Sullins iced the game for good and the ‘Cats opened up their home gym with a 60-49 victory.

After the game, Bearcats Head Coach Bobby Meyer talked about his team’s struggles offensively. The ‘Cats didn’t have much trouble getting to the charity stripe but when they did, they struggled to hit them.  

“We struggled all night offensively and when we could do some good things like drive to the basket and get fouled, we couldn’t make our free throws and that’s been one of our bugaboos this year. We just can’t knock them down, we’re 50-50 on them and tonight we were missing both so free throws are critical to extending an offensive play and we can’t do it,” Meyer said. “The players just played hard. Our effort was still there and that’s what we build ourselves on and pride ourselves on, but the problem is you’ve got to have some rewards for that effort and we’re not getting those by missing easy layups and not finishing plays."

In games like these where both teams are playing full court for most of the night, it’s invaluable for the Bearcats to be able to make large substitutions. Meyer believes that was a key to his team staying fresh and pulling away late in the game.

"We try and play our full roster on most nights and we feel like we can do that to wear a team down,” Meyer said. “I think (Brewer) lost their edge down the stretch and that enabled us to get a little bit of a boost and take the lead.”

Cullman is now 7-1 at this early point in the season will be back at home Friday night to take on the visiting Jasper Vikings.

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