PREP BASKETBALL: Lady Bearcats rally to earn 56-53 win over Decatur Heritage, Cullman cruises to 77-49 win

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The Cullman Lady Bearcats came from behind to defeat Decatur Heritage 56-53 Tuesday night. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Both the Bearcats and Lady Bearcats of Cullman returned home to Bearcat Arena to host Decatur Heritage Tuesday night and both black & gold squads collected wins over the Eagles. The Bearcats led by 22 after the opening period and cruised to a 77-49 win but in the girls’ game, Cullman and Decatur Heritage were tied at 53 with a minute to play and the Lady Bearcats pulled away in the final moments to defeat the Lady Eagles 56-53.

Cullman 56 – Decatur Heritage 53 (Varsity Girls)

The Lady Bearcats led 8-4 midway through the first quarter and an Ava McSwain basket and a three-pointer from Morgan Grimmett stretched the lead to 16-11 later in the period. The ‘Cats maintained a 5-point lead at the started of the second quarter and Ally Sharpe buried a three to keep them in front 21-17. The Lady Eagles were able to take a 1-point lead, but McSwain knocked down a jumper to put Cullman back ahead 23-22 with three minutes remaining in the first half.

A steal by McSwain turned into an easy basket for Sharpe that made it a 25-22 game and after a quick run by Decatur Heritage, Grimmett drilled a three-pointer with 10 seconds on the clock to give the Lady Bearcats a 30-29 advantage at the halftime break.

The Lady Eagles took the lead early in the third, but Carly Mills scored inside to stop the run and trim the lead to 34-32. Points were tough to come by in the third quarter and Decatur Heritage began to create some separation until Grimmett knocked down her third three-pointer of the night to make it a 39-35 game. McSwain netted a pair of free throws to cut the lead to two with less than a minute remaining in the period and Sharpe got a layup to fall in just before the buzzer to tie the game at 39 going into the fourth.

Grimmett drained another three to put Cullman in front 42-40 early in the fourth quarter but Decatur Heritage responded and took a 49-44 lead. Sharpe hit a pair of free throws to make it a 3-point game and McSwain knocked down a three to tie things up at 49. Back to back scores from McSwain kept the ‘Cats ahead 53-49 with two minutes to play. The Lady Eagles didn’t back down and managed to tie the game at 53 with one minute remaining. However, the Lady Bearcats locked down on the defensive end and Sharpe and Ella Collum each nailed free throws in the final moments of the game to lead Cullman to a 56-53 win.

McSwain led the way for the Lady Bearcats with 19 points in the win. Sharpe finished just behind her with 16 and Grimmett posted 12.

Cullman 77 – Decatur Heritage 49 (Varsity Boys)

The ‘Cats got off to a fast start in this one and led 7-3 early thanks to a pair of three-pointers by Jake Dorough. Then Colton Echols turned a steal into a fastbreak dunk to make it 9-3 and Arden Crane buried a three-pointer to make it 12-3. A three-pointer by Tucker Cagle stretched the lead to 15-6 later in the first and Kase Nixon laid one in to put Cullman in front 17-6. A steal by Nixon led to another basket for Echols and after Dorough scored to make it a 21-6 game, Crane knocked down a wild three-point attempt at the buzzer to give the Bearcats a 24-6 advantage going into the second quarter.

Cagle scored and hit a pair of free throws to keep the ‘Cats ahead 28-14 early in the second and Nate Zills laid one in to make it 30-21 midway through the period. Dorough buried back to back three-pointers in the final minute of the period and Cullman went into the locker room leading the Eagles 38-24 at the break.

Sam Duskin and Cagle each scored early in the third to make it a 42-29 game and Dorough’s fifth three-pointer of the night stretched the lead to 47-29 midway through the period. Echols and Cagle each drained threes to add to Cullman’s lead and after a Tyler Tankersley basket, Landon Tweedie converted an and-one play at the line to give the Bearcats a 61-37 lead at the end of the third quarter.

The ’Cats continued to pull away in the final frame, taking a 67-40 lead on a three-pointer from Brodie Bannister. Evan Wilson scored a pair of buckets later in the fourth to make it 75-47 and Crane got one more shot to fall in the final moments to wrap up a 77-49 win for Cullman.

Dorough and Echols each finished with 14 points in the win. Crane and Cagle each added 11, Tankersley posted six and Zills and Tweedie each scored five.

Cullman will be back on the road Friday night for a pair of varsity matchups at Plainview.

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