COUNTY TOURNAMENT: Bulldogs advance with 61-45 win over Holly Pond

Hanceville’s Brayden Harris led the Bulldogs with 21 points in their win over Holly Pond Tuesday night. (Bill Piper/The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – One more varsity battle was on tap at the Cullman County Tournament Tuesday night, and it was another intense clash between the Broncos and Bulldogs. Hanceville and Holly Pond met with a spot in the semifinals on the line and after leading just 22-21 at halftime, the Bulldogs were able to create some separation in the second half and pulled away to collect a 61-45 win.

A basket by Carson Garrett and a three-pointer from Brayden Harris put the Bulldogs in front 5-0 early but a jumper by Kollin Brown got the Broncos on the board. JT Davis laid one in to build the lead back up to five midway through the first quarter but a basket by Gunnar McBee and a three from Brown gave Holly Pond a 8-7 lead with two minutes to play in the period. Harris scored off a turnover to put Hanceville back in front 9-8. Blake Rickard drove to the rim and scored to give the lead back to the Broncos and Christian Couch put one in to make it a 12-9 game with less than a minute on the clock and they went into the second leading the Bulldogs by three.

Harris converted an and-one play at the free throw line to tie the game at 12 early in the second quarter and he scored on the next possession to give Hanceville a 14-12 lead. However, Brown responded with a deep three on the other end to retake a 15-14 lead for Holly Pond. Garrett put one off the glass and in to put the Bulldogs in front 16-15 and Harris drilled a three from the top of the key to make it a 19-15 game midway through the second. Couch scored in the paint to cut the lead to 19-17 with just over two minutes remaining in the half and after a pair of Zach Campbell free throws, Rickard and Sawyer Olinger each scored in the final moments of the half to cut the Hanceville lead to 22-21 at the break.

A couple of Harris baskets stretched the lead to 26-21 at the start of the third quarter and Will Calvert laid one in to make it a 7-point game. Braxton Broad added a pair of free throws and a layup to put the Bulldogs in front 32-21. Campbell took a steal the other way for an easy basket to make it a 34-21 game midway through the third and Davis kept the run going with a three-pointer from the right corner. Garrett split a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 39-21 but the Broncos were finally able to stop the run after Jackson Wilkins drilled a three and turned a steal into an easy layup to trim the lead to 39-26. Campbell scored in transition to make it a 41-26 game late in the third and Rickard knocked down a pair of free throws in the final seconds to cut it to 41-28 going into the final frame.

Tristan Herrera buried a corner three to add to Hanceville’s lead early in the fourth quarter and Calvert dropped in a floater to make it 46-28. Brown drained a deep three-pointer from the top of the key to trim the lead to 46-31 and Sawyer Olinger later netted a pair of free throws to make it a 49-33 game. Harris scored inside and Noah Jones hit a pair of free throws to build the lead back up to 20 with around four minutes remaining and the Bulldogs maintained a 60-40 advantage with less than two minutes to play. The Broncos continued to fight and chip away but the lead was too much to overcome, and Hanceville won it 61-45 to advance.

Harris led the way for the Bulldogs with 21 points in the win. Campbell added nine and Broad posted seven. Rickard finished with 13 for Holly Pond and Brown added 11.

Hanceville will advance to face either Cold Springs or Vinemont in the semifinals Friday night.

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