COUNTY TOURNAMENT: Good Hope takes 66-63 thriller over West Point to advance to semifinals

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The Good Hope Raiders edged West Point 66-63 in this year’s Cullman County Tournament Monday night. (Martha Needham/The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – The first of this year’s varsity boys county tournament matchups tipped off at Tom Drake Coliseum Monday night and it was another classic battle between the Good Hope Raiders and West Point Warriors. The Raiders led by 15 at one point in the third quarter but had to withstand a furious comeback effort by the Warriors. West Point was able to rally and take its first lead of the game around the two-minute mark of the fourth quarter but a pair of clutch free throws by Tanner Malin in the final seconds helped Good Hope hold on and advance with a 66-63 win.

The Raiders got off to a hot shooting start in this one. Tanner Malin and Charlie O’Neil drilled a pair of three-pointers to give Good Hope a 6-0 lead and Malin netted a pair of free throws later in the period to stretch the lead to 8-1. A Kolten Perry basket trimmed the lead to 8-3 midway through the first and after a pair of free throws by Noah Barnette on the other end, Jay Lamar scored in transition to make it a 10-5 game. That’s when the Raiders began to heat back up. Tyler Cone scored inside to extend the lead to 12-5 and Malin knocked down his second three of the night to make it 15-5. Cone followed with a three of his own to add to the lead and Jacob Haynes scored the next four points for Good Hope to stretch the lead to 22-5. However, the Warriors were finally able to find some points when Andrew Lynn buried a three at the buzzer to cut the lead to 22-8 going into the second quarter.

Weston Hancock converted an old fashioned three-point play at the line to make it a 25-8 game at the start of the second, but West Point responded on the other end with a basket from Perry and a pair of free throws by Lamar. Tucker Malin laid one in from underneath the basket to make it 27-12 but the Warriors managed to get those points back and then some with three frows from Lynn and a floater by Cade Simmons, cutting the lead to 27-17 with five minutes remaining in the first half. O’Neil and Lynn traded three-pointers to make it a 30-20 game and the Raiders were adding to their lead in the final three minutes of the period, but Sam Wheeler buried a half court shot at the buzzer to trim the lead to 40-27 at halftime and give West Point some momentum going into the break.

Colton Lindsey and Kanen Trussell traded baskets to make it a 42-30 game early in the third quarter and Malin laid one in to put the Raiders in front 45-30. Simmons scored to get the lead back down to 12 and the Warriors continued to chip away at the free throw line until a three-pointer by Lamar made it a 50-41 game with less than a minute to play in the third. Neither team got on the board the rest of the period and we went into the fourth with Good Hope leading by nine.

West Point began to storm back in the final frame. Perry finished an and-one play at the free throw line to cut the lead to six and a few possessions later, Lynn drained a three from the wing to make it a 50-47 game with six minutes on the clock. A pair of Malin free throws extended the lead back to five but another and-one play by Perry on the other end made it a 2-point game. Malin split a pair of free throws and Haynes scored in transition to put the Raiders ahead 55-50 but Lamar buried a corner three to trim the lead back down to 55-53 with just over three minutes to play. A steal by the Warriors turned into a layup by Perry that tied the game at 55 and on their next possession, Lamar drilled another three from the corner to give West Point its first lead of the night at 58-55.

Good Hope responded right away with a big three-pointer from Hancock that tied the game at 58 but the Warriors continued their hot shooting and Lynn nailed another three to move back in front 61-58. Lindsey hit a pair of free throws to cut the lead to 61-60 and Hancock drove to the basket and laid one in to put the Raiders back on top 62-61 with one minute remaining. On the next West Point possession, a steal by Malin turned into a basket for Lindsey and put Good Hope in front by three with 30 seconds on the clock. A quick basket by Trussell on the other end made it a 64-63 game with 13 seconds on the clock. Malin was intentionally fouled on the ensuing inbound pass and sent to the line where he knocked down both foul shots and made it a 3-point game with just over 10 seconds to play. The Warriors got a couple looks at a game-tying three but couldn’t get either of them to fall and the Raiders held on to win it 66-63, earning a spot in the semifinals.

Good Hope was led by Tanner Malin who posted 18 points in the win, followed by Hancock with 11 and O’Neil with 10. Perry led the way for West Point with 19 points in the loss. Lamar and Lynn each added 15 for the Warriors.

The Raiders will be back on the court at Tom Drake Coliseum Friday at 6:15 p.m. to take on (1) Fairview in the varsity boys’ semifinals.

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