PREP BASKETBALL: Cullman tips off season with 90-37 win over Calera, Lady Bearcats win 63-34

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Garrison Sharpe (15) drives to the basket and scores during Cullman’s 90-37 win over Calera Monday night. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – The defending 6A state champion Cullman Bearcats tipped off their season at home in Bearcat Arena Monday night and they’re off to a 1-0 start after handling the Eagles of Calera 90-37. The Lady Bearcats hosted Calera for their home opener as well, defeating the Lady Eagles convincingly, 63-34.

Bearcats Head Coach Stu Stuedeman was excited to see his team get back out on the court and tip off another season and he was especially happy they got to play in front of a raucous home crowd.

“It was amazing. We have the best fans in the state. Our Cullman Chaos student section is unbelievable. Did you see the gym today? Unbelievable,” Stuedeman said. “To have a crowd like that for a Monday night, November game is great and I’m so very thankful. It was fun watching our guys finally get back in the action, so it was a fun feeling.”

Stuedeman was happy with the way his team played on the offensive end throughout most of the game but wants to see them continue to improve on the defensive end and on the glass.

“I like how played offensively, we were really fast, played inside out, very unselfish and we attacked the top. We made two people guard us and then kicked it to the open man. Defensively, we were good enough, but we have to get a lot better. Rebounding we have to get a lot better, but I’m still very pleased. We’ve got a lot of new pieces and they came in and worked together seamlessly with our guys that are back from last year and hopefully we can keep it rolling and keep getting better and better.”

Cullman 90 – Calera 37 (Varsity Boys)

The Bearcats mauled the Eagles in the opening period, jumping out to an 11-0 lead in the first two minutes. A three-pointer by Colton Echols stretched the lead to 16-2 midway through the first quarter and the ‘Cats continued to pull away until a basket from Jake Dorough made it a 33-7 game going into the second quarter.

Five quick points from Garrison Sharpe made it 38-10 early in the second and the senior added another pair of buckets midway through the period to put Cullman in front 52-16. Dorough netted a pair of free throws and Echols scored another basket in the final minute of the half to give the Bearcats a commanding, 56-18 lead at the break.

Two quick buckets by Nate Zills made it a 62-24 game early in the third quarter and a score from Sam Duskin extended the lead to 64-26. Echols and Evan Wilson scored later in the third to keep Cullman ahead 69-29 and after another basket from Dorough, Brodie Bannister split a pair of free throws in the final seconds of the period to make it 77-31 going into the fourth quarter.

With the clock running throughout the final frame, Tyler Tankersley knocked down a pair of free throws and Arden Crane drilled a three-pointer midway through the quarter to help wrap up an impressive, 90-37 victory for the Bearcats.

Echols led Cullman with 24 points in the win, followed by Dorough with 17 and Sharpe with 14.

The Bearcats will be back in action later this week when they host the Veteran’s Day Tip-Off Classic at Wallace State’s Tom Drake Coliseum Friday.

Cullman 63 – Calera 34 (Varsity Girls)

Ava McSwain and Ally Sharpe each knocked down a pair of free throws to give Cullman an early, 4-0 start over Calera and the Lady Bearcats continued to pour it on in the first quarter. A three-pointer by Morgan Grimmett made it a 17-0 game midway through the opening period and four quick points from Carly Mills stretched the lead 21-0. Cullman capped off an explosive first quarter with a buzzer-beating three from Ella Collum to take a 27-5 lead into the second.

Baskets by Mills and McSwain extended the lead to 31-7 early in the second quarter and around the midway points of the period, Sharpe drilled a three-pointer to make it a 35-13 game. Mills knocked down a three to put Cullman in front 41-15 late in the second and Sharpe laid one into the basket in the final seconds of the quarter to give the Lady Bearcats a 43-16 advantage going into the locker room at halftime.

Cullman continued to dominate in the second half, taking a 60-19 lead over the Lady Eagles midway through the third with a three-pointer by McSwain. Kadence Hanback split a pair of free throws in the final minute of the period and the Lady Bearcats went into the final frame with a 61-21 lead over Calera. With the clock running in the fourth, a basket by Hanback was the only offense for Cullman in the final eight minutes and the ‘Cats went on to defeat the Lady Eagles 63-34.

Sharpe and McSwain each posted 17 points for Cullman in the win. Mills added 11, Hanback and Rachel Hoffman each finished with four and Grimmett posted three.

The Lady Bearcats will be on the road Tuesday night for a matchup against Mortimer Jordan.

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