COUNTY TOURNAMENT: Cold Springs takes 70-65 OT thriller over Hanceville to advance to County Finals

Cold Springs’ Brody Peppers posted a team-high 20 points in the Eagles’ 70-65 OT win over Hanceville Friday night. (Bill Piper/The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Cold Springs and Hanceville battled for the last spot in Saturday’s varsity boys’ championship game Friday night, and it was an instant classic between the Eagles and Bulldogs. Four quarters weren’t enough to settle things between these local rivals, and the Cold Springs had to pull ahead in overtime to take a dramatic, 70-65 win over Hanceville.

Seth Williams scored the game’s first basket to put Cold Springs ahead 2-0 early but not much went right for the Eagles in the first quarter after that. Back to back three-pointers by Zach Campbell gave the Bulldogs a 6-2 lead that they stretched to 10-4 by the midway point of the period. After Brody Peppers scored inside to cut the lead to four, Brayden Harris caught fire for Hanceville, scoring the next seven points of the game to give Hanceville a 17-6 lead late in the first. Noah Jones drained a three to add to the Bulldog lead and by the end of the opening period, Hanceville led Cold Springs 20-10.

The Eagles cut into the lead early in the second with baskets by Peppers and Williams and John Mark Smith knocked down a corner three to make it a 22-17 game. Harris drilled another three for the Bulldogs to extend their lead to 25-17 but that’s when Cold Springs began to rally. Another three-pointer by Smith cut the lead back down to five and later in the period, Tanner Kilgo scored six straight points for the Eagles to make it a 1-point game. Will Calvert scored on the other end to put Hanceville up 29-26 but Cold Springs ended the half on a 9-0 run, capped off by another three from Smith, to take a 35-29 lead into the locker room at the break.

Campbell scored a couple baskets for the Bulldogs to start the third quarter and cut the lead to 35-33 but a layup from Cody Bales and a pair of Peppers free throws kept the Eagles in front 39-34. Harris knocked down a three from the right corner to trim the lead to two, but Peppers finished an and-one play on the next possession to build the lead back up to 42-37. Harris got a running floater to fall that cut the lead to three and Jones buried another three later in the period to make it a 44-42 game. Harris’ big night continued with a deep three-pointer that gave Hanceville its first lead since the second quarter at 45-44 and he added a pair of free throws with less than a minute remaining in the third to make it 47-44. Bales sank a pair of free throws with eight seconds on the clock to trim the lead to 47-46 and the Eagles went into the fourth trailing by one.

Bales and Harris traded three-pointers to start the final frame, making it a 50-49 game and a free throw by Kilgo tied things up at 50. The tie didn’t last for long as Harris hit another three from the top of the key on the next possession and put the Bulldogs back in front 53-50. Carson Garrett scored inside to stretch the lead to five, but Peppers scored on the other end to make it a 55-52 game. A pair of free throws from Garrett gave Hanceville a 5-point lead midway through the fourth quarter and the Bulldogs held on to a 59-56 advantage with two minutes left to play. The Eagles made their move in the final 90 seconds, cutting the lead to one with a free throw from Bales and taking a 60-59 lead on a three-pointer by Smith. Campbell split a pair of free throws to tie the game at 60 with one minute on the clock. Both teams had a shot at a game-winner in the final minute but couldn’t get anything to fall, sending the game to overtime.

A free throw by Peppers and layup from Williams put Cold Springs in front 63-60 early in the overtime period and a pair of free throws by Cole Bales extended the lead to 65-61 with a little over a minute remaining on the clock. Hanceville wouldn’t go away, and Harris drained his seventh three-pointer of the night to cut the lead down to 65-64. Cole Bales and Campbell each split a pair of free throws to make it a 66-65 game with 10 seconds remaining and both Bales and Smith added two more free throws in the final seconds to wrap up a 70-65, overtime win over the Bulldogs.

Peppers led the way for the Eagles with 20 points in the win, followed by Smith with 14, Kilgo with 13 and Cody Bales with 10. Harris racked up a game-high 31 points in the loss and Campbell finished with 19.

Cold Springs will be back at Tom Drake Coliseum Saturday night at 7 p.m. to face Good Hope in this year’s Cullman County Championship Game.

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