PREP BASKETBALL: Bearcats roll Arab 69-40 to win HP Thanksgiving Tournament

The Cullman Bearcats defeated Arab 69-40 Wednesday night to win this year’s Holly Pond Thanksgiving Tournament. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

HOLLY POND, Ala. – The 64th annual Holly Pond Thanksgiving Tournament concluded Wednesday night and after handling the Arab Knights 69-40 in the tournament finals, the Cullman Bearcats went home with the hardware. Cold Springs fell to Douglas in the third-place game 53-44 and both Fairview and Holly Pond lost their earlier matchups against Lincoln County and New Hope respectively.

Cullman 69 – Arab 40 (Tournament championship game)

The ‘Cats got off to a quick, 5-0 start over the Knights after Garrison Sharpe buried a three-pointer and Brodie Malcom laid one in and they didn’t take their foot off the gas in the opening quarter. A three-pointer followed by a steal and layup from Tucker Gambrill stretched the lead to 10-2 and Tucker Cagle and Tucker Apel both got shots to fall to make it a 16-4 game with two minutes to play in the first. Gambrill came up with another steal followed by another trey to give Cullman a 21-5 lead going into the second.

Things slowed down just a bit in the second quarter. Gambrill knocked down a triple to make it 25-7 early in the period and added another one from beyond the arc to extend the lead to 28-9 with just over three minutes to play in the half. Apel gave the ‘Cats some more momentum going into the locker room by converting an and-one play at the line with less than a minute to play in the quarter and Cullman went into the halftime break with a 32-13 advantage.

The Bearcats really began pulling away early in the third quarter, starting with back to back threes from Gambrill that made it a 38-13 game. A pair of baskets by Malcom put Cullman in front 44-15 with just over five minutes to play in the third and Sharpe drilled another shot from long range to make it 47-17 midway through the period. A spinning layup by Cagle followed by a steal and basket from Jaden Kay made it 53-17 with three minutes to play in the third and Cayden Graham kept the run going with a three-pointer of his own. Pressure from Cullman on the defensive end made things tough for Arab all night and the ‘Cats ended the quarter with another steal and quick bucket from Carter Gay that made it 59-21 going into the fourth.

With the hot clock running, the Bearcats got another basket from Gay and another three from Graham to stay ahead comfortably and they held on to beat Arab 69-40, winning this year’s Holly Pond Thanksgiving Tournament in the process.

Gambrill led Cullman with 22 points in the win, followed by Malcom, Graham and Sharpe who each finished with six and Jaden Orr who posted five. The ‘Cats improve to 9-1 on the year with the win and will play again Tuesday at Mortimer Jordan.

Douglas 53 – Cold Springs 44 (Third-place game)

The Eagles of Cold Springs got off to solid start in this one, but the Eagles of Douglas were able to take over the momentum in the second half. Back to back Tanner Kilgo baskets gave Cold Springs an early 4-2 lead and Micah Calvert added a three to make it 7-2 midway through the first. A Calvert jumper, followed by a Seth Williams layup, kept the Eagles in front 11-5 with three minutes remaining in the first but despite a basket from Cody Bales, Douglas was able to climb back and cut the lead to 13-12 going into the second quarter.

The run continued for Douglas and Cold Springs fell behind 22-17 by the midway point of the second. A three-pointer from Seth Williams trimmed the lead to 22-20 with three minutes to play in the half but Douglas managed to take a 24-20 advantage into the locker room at the break.

Another three by Williams and another basket from Kilgo cut the Douglas lead to 30-28 early in the third quarter and a trey from Roberto Ayala held the lead to two midway through the quarter. A deep three-pointer by Calvert gave Cold Springs a 34-33 lead and another Kilgo score kept the Eagles in front 36-35 late in the period. Ayden Alexander laid one in with just under a minute left in the third and Cold Springs went into the final frame with a 38-35 lead.

Douglas tightened up defensively and held the Eagles scoreless for much of the fourth quarter. Cold Springs’ first points of the quarter came on a Kilgo three-pointer that cut the Douglas lead to 45-41 with three minutes to play. Brodi Williams knocked down a three of his own to make it a 1-point game at 45-44 but the Eagles were kept off the scoreboard the rest of the way and Douglas pulled away to win it 53-44.

Kilgo led Cold Springs with 18 points in the loss, followed by Seth Williams with eight, Calvert with eight and Brodi Williams with three. The Eagles will be back in action at West Point Tuesday.

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