CULLMAN COUNTY TOURNAMENT: JV squads battle it out on day 1

Pictured L-R: Vinemont’s Caleb Sharpe, Cold Springs’ Ella Bruer and Holly Pond’s Gunnar McBee helped lead their respective teams to opening round victories Saturday. (Martha Needham for The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – This year’s Cullman County Basketball Tournament officially tipped Saturday afternoon at Tom Drake Coliseum and day one was loaded with junior varsity action. Vinemont knocked off Hanceville 52-38 in the first matchup of the day to advance to the next round, The Cold Springs Lady Eagles handled Fairview 47-18 to advance, Holly Pond edged Fairview 31-28 to move on to the next round, the Lady Broncos advanced after crushing Vinemont 61-11 and West Point rallied in the fourth quarter to get by Cold Springs 55-41.

(4) Vinemont 52 – (5) Hanceville 38 (JV Boys game one)

Caleb Sharpe scored the first three points of the game to give the Eagles an early lead and a pair of Austin Riddle free throws made it a 7-2 game midway through the first. Kix Johnson knocked down a three-pointer from the right wing to stretch the lead to 10-2 with just over three minutes to play in the period and a steal by Johnson led to a three on the other end from Bosten McDuffee and gave Vinemont a 15-2 lead with two minutes remaining in the opening quarter. Another three from Johnson made it a 20-3 game and Gabe Friedrich hit a jumper in the final seconds of the first to give the Eagles a 22-6 lead going into the second quarter.

Brian Munoz netted a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 22-8 early in the second and Brayden Harris drilled a deep three to make it a 24-13 game midway through the period. Another Harris basket trimmed the Vinemont lead to 26-15 with under three minutes to play in the half and Harris delivered a perfect pass to Will Calvert beneath the basket to make it 26-17 with less than two minutes on the clock. Dillion Twilley added a pair of free throws cut it to 26-19 and Hanceville went into the half trailing by just seven. The Bulldogs ended the half on a 13-4 scoring run.

A McDuffee basket put the Eagles in front 28-19 early in third quarter but Harris responded with a Hanceville basket on the other end. An Isaiah Goodwin basket trimmed the lead to 28-23 and Malcom Farris added a free throw to make it a 3-point game. Harris buried another deep three to hold the Vinemont lead at 31-27 midway through the third, but Sharpe responded with a score to make it 33-27 with under three minutes to play in the period. A corner three from Ryan Stewart gave the Eagles a 36-27 advantage with two minutes on the clock and a put back by Riddle made it a 38-29 game with under a minute to play in the third quarter. Vinemont went into the final frame with a 39-29 lead over the Bulldogs.

Two quick buckets for Riddle and Sharpe put the Eagles in front 43-29 at the start of the fourth and another Riddle score made it 47-31 with just over five minutes to play. Farris got a floater to fall that cut the lead to 47-33 but a steal and layup by Johnson put Vinemont back on top by 16 with three minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Tristan Herrera scored a tough basket down low to trim the lead to 50-37 with just under two minutes to play but it was too little, too late and the Eagles pulled away to win it 52-38 and advance to the next round of the JV Boys bracket where they will face the top-seeded Good Hope Raiders Monday night at 5 p.m.

Sharpe led the way for Vinemont with 16 points in the win, followed by McDuffee with 13, Riddle and Johnson with eight and Stewart with three. Harris led the Bulldogs with 12 points, Herrera posted 10, Farris added five, Calvert put up four and Twilley and Munoz each scored two.

(4) Cold Springs 47 – (5) Fairview 18 (JV Girls game one)

Both teams had to get over a slow offensive start in this one as neither team was able to get on the scoreboard until a few minutes into the opening quarter, but Ella Bruer eventually knocked down a three-pointer for Cold Springs to take a 3-1 lead. A three-pointer from Mia Light stretched the lead to 6-1 with two minutes to play in the quarter and a basket by Malaya Taylor made it an 8-1 game. Another Bruer basket gave the Lady Eagles a 10-1 advantage but the Lady Aggies scored their first field goal of the game when Abigail Davis fought through a foul for two points and cut the lead to 10-3 going into the second quarter.

Light hit another three and Taylor added another basket to push the Cold Springs lead to 15-3 at the start of the second but Davis answered with a three on the other end to trim the lead to 16-6 with just over four minutes to play in the period. Another score by Light made it an 18-6 game with three minutes remaining in the half and Bruer turned a steal into an easy layup that stretch the lead to 20-6 with less than a minute on the clock. Bruer added a pair of free throws with 30 seconds remaining to make it 22-6 but Davis added a free throw of her own on the other end to cut the Lady Eagles lead to 22-7 at the halftime break.

Both teams started slow in the second half as well until a basket from Kiley Stevens cut the lead to 22-9 around the five-minute mark of the third. The Lady Eagles responded with a 9-0 run, starting with four straight points from Taylor and another three-pointer from Bruer that made it 29-9. Another Taylor basket stretched the lead to 31-9 with just over two minutes to play in the period and Bruer drilled another triple at the buzzer to give Cold Springs a 36-12 advantage at the start of the final period.

Davis knocked down a jumper early in the fourth to trim the lead to 36-14 but Taylor answered with a basket on the other end to build the lead back up to 24. Bruer got a floater to drop and extended the lead to 40-16 midway through the fourth quarter and Taylor scored another basket in the paint to make it a 42-16 game. A Davis basket cut the lead to 24 with just under three minutes to play but Bruer drilled another shot from beyond the arc inside of two minutes to put the Lady Eagles in front 45-18. Cold Springs cruised to a comfortable, 47-18 win and will take on top-seeded West Point Thursday at 5 p.m.

Bruer led the Lady Eagles with 24 points in the win, Taylor added 15 and Light finished with eight. Davis led the Lady Aggies with 10 points in the loss. Stevens finished with six and Allie Scott and Jayla Harper each posted a point for Fairview.

(6) Holly Pond 31 – Fairview 28 (JV Boys game two)

A Gunnar McBee basket gave the Broncos an early 2-0 lead over the Aggies but a three-pointer from Clayton Strane on the other end gave Fairview a 3-2 lead with just under three minutes to play in the period. Another Strane bucket made it a 5-2 game but Nathan Carter drilled a three for Holly Pond to tie the game at 5 late in the quarter. A David Hollis basket gave the Aggies a 7-6 lead with just over a minute to play in the period and Fairview held onto a 1-point lead at the start of the second quarter.

Landon Tweedie drilled a three from the left wing early in the second to give the Aggies a 10-6 lead but a steal and basket by McBee made it a 10-8 game with just over five minutes to play in the half. Brody Bagwell stole a Fairview pass and took it all the way to the other end for two points and tied the game at 10 with three minutes remining in the period but a basket from Parker Martin put the Aggies back in front 12-10 with less than a minute to play in the half. Fairview maintained a 12-10 lead at the halftime break.

A put back from Strane stretched the Aggies lead to 14-13 early in the third but Bagwell answered with a bucket of his own on the other end to keep it a 1-point game. A baseline floater from McBee gave the Broncos a 15-14 lead midway through the period but Strane scored for Fairview to put the Aggies back up 16-15. Gunner Kreel netted a three-pointer from the right corner with two minutes in the quarter to give Holly Pond an 18-16 lead but Tweedie converted an and-one play at the line to give Fairview a 19-18 lead late in the third and the Aggies held a 1-point lead going into the final frame.

A pair of free throws from Bryson Chamness stretched the lead to 21-18 at the start of the fourth and a big basket by Martin made it 23-19 with just over five minutes to play. McBee answered with a triple on the other end to cut the lead to one but Tweedie scored quickly for Fairview to make it a 25-22 game. Martin netted a pair of free throws to increase the lead to five with just over three minutes to play but a Kreel basket trimmed the lead to 27-24 late in the fourth. A pair of Bagwell free throws made it a 1-point game for the Broncos with under two minutes remaining and on their next possession, Kreel gave them a 28-27 lead with a pair of shots from the free throw line.

With just 40 seconds on the clock, McBee added two more free throws for Holly Pond and extended the lead to 30-27 but Martin was able to cut the lead down to 30-28 with a free throw on the other end. The Aggies were forced to foul McBee with 10 seconds to play and he knocked down one from the charity stripe to make it a 31-28 game, leaving a chance for Fairview to tie it back up. The Broncos forced the Aggies to the line with six seconds on the clock and after they missed the front end of a one-and-one, Holly Pond held on to win a nail-biter, 31-28. The Broncos will advance to take on West Point Tuesday at 5 p.m.

McBee led Holly Pond with 13 points in the win, followed by Creel and Bagwell with seven and Carter with three. Clayton led the way for Fairview with nine points in the loss. Tweedie posted eight for the Aggies and Martin finished with seven.

(3) Holly Pond 61 – (6) Vinemont 11 (JV Girls game two)

The second JV girls’ game of the day featured the no. 3 seed, Holly Pond, and the no. 6 seed, Vinemont. Holly Pond got the scoring started on a layup by Ellie Burks, but Vinemont got a three from Brittany Yarbrough to take a 3-2 lead. The Lady Broncos got the lead right back on a shot by Raeleigh Olinger and Burks got the steal and layup to make it 6-3. Holly Pond later made it 13-3 on a trey by Lauren Hoffman, but Vinemont got a basket from Gracie Goodwin to make it 13-5 and the Lady Broncos went into the second quarter up by eight.

Holly Pond continued its scoring run and stretched its lead to 27-5 on an Olinger shot, but the Lady Eagles’ Daisy McGraw hit one of three from the line to make it 27-6. A pair at the line by Maycie Black increased the Lady Bronco lead to 34-6. Angel Wiggins hit a short shot for Vinemont to make it 34-8, but an Olinger layup made it a 36-8 lead at the half.

Back-to-back treys to start the third period by Lauren Hoffman pushed the Holly Pond lead to 42-8. Bai Widner added another one from long range for the Lady Broncos to make it 45-8 and the they went into the final period leading, 50-8. A hot clock was in effect for the fourth quarter and Holly Pond wound up taking the game 61-11 to move on to the next round and will take on second-seeded Good Hope Friday at 5 p.m.

Hoffman finished the game with 20 for Holly Pond. Widner added 14 points, Burks ended up with 10, Black finished with nine and Olinger added six. For Vinemont, Yarbrough and Briana Harshman each finished with three, Goodwin and Wiggins each added two and McGraw chipped in with a point.

(2) West Point 55 – (7) Cold Springs 41 (JV Boys game three)

The final game of the day featured a JV boys’ matchup between the no. 2 seed, West Point, and the no. 7 seed, Cold Springs. Cade Simmons drilled a three for West Point’s first basket of the game, but that was later followed by a three from the Eagles’ John Smith. Cody Bales hit a layup to give Cold Springs a 5-3 lead, but Kanen Trussell tied the game for West Point and was followed by an Andrew Lynn three-pointer to give the Warriors an 8-5 lead. Cold Springs got the lead right back at 11-8 on back-to-back treys from Smith and the Eagles held a 3-point advantage after one.

Smith nailed his fourth three of the first half to stretch the Cold Springs lead to 14-10, but Isaac Hoffpauir hit a layup to make it 14-12. Logan Ballenger nailed the Eagles’ fifth three of the half to give them a 17-12 advantage. Simmons answered with one of his own, but Bales nailed yet another long range shot for Cold Springs to make it 20-15. The Warriors scored six in a row and a layup by Hoffpauir gave them a 21-20 lead. Another Bales three gave the Eagles the lead right back at 23-21, but a layup from Hoffpauir and a free throw from Simmons gave the Warriors a 24-23 lead at the half.

A Trussell three-point play pushed West Point’s lead to 27-23, but another Smith trey made it 27-26. The Warriors later stretched their lead to 32-26 on a Simmons layup and Cold Springs countered with six in a row to tie the game at 32 and Brodee Bartlett drilled a trey to give the Eagles a 35-32 lead after three quarters.

West Point got some timely shooting from the three-point line from Lynn, who drilled two from there, plus three free throws, and Trussell collected a couple of baskets as well to help the Warriors get the lead right back at 45-35. Cold Springs’ Houston Goodwin hit a trey to stop the run and make it 45-38 but Lynn wasn’t done. He drilled two more from long range, Trussell added another inside basket and Hoffpauir hit a pair from the line to help seal the 55-41 win for the Warriors, who allowed just two baskets the entire fourth period. West Point will take on the no. 6 seed, Holly Pond, Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Lynn finished with 18 points to lead the way for West Point, followed by Trussell with 13. Simmons added 10 points, Hoffpauir ended up with nine and Ethan Gammon finished with five. For Cold Springs, Smith finished with 15 points. Bales added 12 and Goodwin and Bartlett each ended up with six.

County tournament action will resume Monday at 5 p.m. when Good Hope takes on Vinemont in the JV Boys division. The West Point Lady Warriors and Vinemont Lady Eagles will top off varsity play at 6:15 and Hanceville and Fairview will meet each other in the opening round of the varsity boys bracket at 7:30.

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