PREP BASKETBALL: Bearcats blow past Trojans in area opener 72-43, Lady Bearcats fall to Muscle Shoals 71-53

Cullman’s Kase Nixon (0) and Tucker Cagle (11) press a Trojans player during the Bearcats’ 72-43 win over Muscle Shoals Tuesday night. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – For the first time of the new year, the Bearcats and Lady Bearcats were back home to take on Muscle Shoals in a pair of area openers Tuesday night. The Lady Bearcats led the Lady Trojans early but couldn’t maintain their lead and eventually fell 71-53 but in the boys’ game, the Bearcats built a massive lead in the opening period and cruised to a 72-43 win over Muscle Shoals.

Muscle Shoals 71 – Cullman 53 (varsity girls)

Baskets by Jaden Winfrey and Ava McSwain gave Cullman an early, 4-2 lead in the first quarter and another bucket from McSwain kept the score tied at 6 later in the period. Ella Collum drilled a three-pointer to put the ‘Cats in front 9-8 with five minutes to play in the first and a steal by Winfrey turned into an easy basket for Reagan Quattlebaum on the other end. A run from Muscle Shoals gave the Lady Trojans a 15-11 lead late in the opening quarter but Carly Mills scored inside to cut the lead to two. McSwin knocked down a jumper with less than a minute remaining in the period to tie the game at 15 but Muscle Shoals was able to move back in front 17-16 by the start of the second quarter.

McSwain and Maci Brown netted a pair of free throws to keep the score knotted at 19 early in the second but a 7-2 run buy the Lady Trojans gave them a 26-21 lead midway through the period. A basket by Stella Smith cut the lead to 28-23 later in the quarter but Muscle Shoals finished the half strong and went into the locker room leading the Lady Bearcats 38-26 at the break.

Ally Sharpe buried a three and a pair of free throws to make it a 44-31 game early in the third quarter. Winfrey knocked down a three of her own and Sharpe added another three points from long range to make it 53-37 with just over two minutes to play in the period. Cullman went into the fourth trailing Muscle Shoals 54-39.

Winfrey knocked down a pair of free throws and Collum drained a three-pointer to cut into the lead, but offensive rebounds make it easier for the Lady Trojans to score on the other end and Muscle Shoals pulled away to win it 71-53.

McSwain led the way for Cullman with 13 points in the loss. Collum finished with 10 points and Winfrey and Sharpe each added eight. The Lady Bearcats will look to bounce back Thursday when they host Jasper.

Cullman 72 – Muscle Shoals 43 (varsity boys)

The Bearcats got off to about as good a start as they could’ve hoped for in the opening quarter. A basket by Tucker Cagle and a three-pointer by Tucker Apel made it 5-0 to start the game and Colton Echols buried a three of his own to make it 8-0. Tucker Gambrill turned a steal into an easy layup to stretch the lead to 10-0 and Jamar Kay knocked down a three to make it a 13-0 game midway through the first. Garrsion Sharpe laid one in to keep Cullman in front 15-2 and Kase Nixon added three more to make it 18-2. Another three-pointer from Apel and a basket by Echols gave the ‘Cats a 23-4 advantage and they went into the second quarter leading the Trojans 24-4. Seven different Bearcats scored in the opening period.

Baskets by Nixon and Echols made it a 28-5 game early in the second quarter and Nate Zills scored inside to extend the lead to 30-7. Kay drilled another three and Sam Duskin drove to the basket for two to put Cullman on top 35-9 midway through the second and Cagle score two more baskets for the Bearcats just before the half to make it a 39-13 game at the break.

During halftime, the home crowd was treated to a guest appearance from former NFL defensive lineman Devin Wyman. Wyman now works as a motivational speaker and got a chance to speak briefly to the crowd Tuesday night, but he will be back on campus Jan. 13. CHS will be hosting a Family Night dinner for Cullman City Schools families in the cafeteria at 5:30 p.m. followed by a Family Night program in the auditorium at 6:30 p.m.

(Courtesy of Cullman High School)

Cagle and Zills each scored early in the third to add to the lead and Sharpe drained a three-pointer to give the ‘Cats a 46-18 advantage. Back to back buckets by Zills made it a 50-20 game midway through the third quarter and a pair of Cagle baskets helped make it 55-29 with just over a minute remaining in the period. Apel got one more shot to fall just before the end of the quarter and Cullman went into the final frame leading Muscle Shoals 57-29.

Gambrill hit a pair of free throws at the start of the fourth to make it a 30-point game and the clock began to run. Gambrill scored two more baskets to keep the Bearcats in front 63-37 midway through the fourth quarter and Evan Wilson laid one in later in the period to make it 65-40. After a three-pointer by Echols made it a 70-43 game late in the fourth, Wilson laid one in just before the buzzer to wrap up a 72-43, area win for Cullman.

Cagle and Echols each finished with 12 points for the Bearcats in the win. Apel posted nine, Zills and Gambrill added eight and Sharpe and Kay each scored six. Cullman improves to 15-1 with the win and will be on the road for another big game Thursday against the hated Hartselle Tigers.

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