PREP BASKETBALL: Bearcats, Lady Bearcats fall in area matchups at Hartselle

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Cullman’s Tucker Cagle (11) finished with 14 points in the Bearcats’ loss at Hartselle Saturday night. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

HARTSELLE, Ala. – The Cullman Bearcats made the quick trip North to face Hartselle Saturday night but unfortunately for the traveling black and gold crowd, the Tigers and Lady Tigers were able to collect a pair of wins over both Cullman squads. The short-handed Lady Bearcats fell to the fourth-ranked Lady Tigers 73-57 despite a monstrous performance from Ava McSwain and in the boys’ game, the Bearcats rallied in the fourth quarter to come back from a big Hartselle lead but couldn’t quite climb all the way back and fell to the Tigers 67-60.

Hartselle 73 – Cullman 57 (varsity girls)

The Lady Tigers jumped out to an early lead in their matchup against Cullman but three-pointers by Ava McSwain and Ally Sharpe got the ‘Cats on the board and cut the lead to 12-6 with three minutes to play in the first quarter. Carly Mills split a pair of free throws to continue chipping away and Sharpe took a steal the other way for a three-point play at the end of the first to trim the lead to 16-10 going into the second.

McSwain converted an and-one play at the start of the second quarter to make it a 20-13 game and after a Mills jumper, Sharpe scored the next five points for the Lady Bearcats to cut the lead to 28-20. Hartselle got hot in the final two minutes of the half. McSwain scored the final six points of the period for Cullman, but the Lady Tigers went into the locker room with a 43-26 lead at the break.

McSwain’s stellar performance continued in the third quarter. She scored all but three of the Lady Bearcats’ points in the period. The other three came from Morgan Grimmett. However, even after McSwain posted 13 points in the third, Cullman still went into the fourth quarter trailing 56-42.

Sharpe scored the first five points of the fourth for Cullman and McSwain continued to add highlights to her impressive night, but it wasn’t enough to outpace the Lady Tigers and Hartselle pulled away to defeat the Lady Bearcats 73-57.

McSwain racked up 33 points in the loss and Sharpe added 16. Cullman will look to bounce back at home Tuesday night when it hosts Decatur.

Hartselle 67 – Cullman 60 (varsity boys)

Garrison Sharpe got off to a hot start in the Bearcats’ battle with the Tigers. Sharpe scored eight of Cullman’s first 11 points of the game to help build an early, 11-8 lead and baskets by Tucker Cagle and Tucker Gambrill gave the ‘Cats a 15-11 advantage going into the second quarter.

An 8-0 run by Hartselle made it a 19-15 game early in the second but back to back baskets by Cagle tied the game at 19. The Tigers moved back in front midway through the period but three-pointers by Gambrill and Sharpe allowed Cullman to retake a 27-25 lead with three minutes remaining in the first half. A basket from Colton Echols kept the ‘Cats in front 31-29 with just over a minute to play in the quarter and Tucker Apel drained a three in the final moments of the half to give Cullman a 34-31 lead at the break.

The third quarter was a tough one for the Bearcats. They were held to just five points in the period, coming on a Jamar Kay three-pointer and a basket by Sharpe. The ‘Cats held up on the defensive end of the floor but went into the final frame trailing Hartselle 51-39.

Cullman didn’t go away quietly and stormed back in the fourth quarter to make it a one possession game. Cagle scored at the start of the fourth to cut the lead to 10 and Apel scored the next six points for the Bearcats to make it a 53-47 game. That’s when Sharpe knocked down another three to cut the lead to five with just under four minutes on the clock and after baskets from Apel and Cagle, the Tiger lead was down to 57-54. Hartselle made its free throws on the other end, making it difficult for Cullman to gain ground but Sharpe buried another three for the Bearcats with two minutes to play to make it a 59-57 game. Unfortunately, that was as close as the ‘Cats could get, and the Tigers were able to hold on and pick up a 67-60 win over Cullman.

Sharpe led the way for the Bearcats with 20 points in the loss. Cagles finished with 14, Apel added 11 and Gambrill posted eight. The loss to Hartselle is Cullman’s second loss of the season and the ‘Cats will try to get back in the win column when they host Decatur Tuesday night.

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