JV COUNTY TOURNAMENT: Vinemont takes 54-51 thriller over Holly Pond

Vinemont’s Cheston Wilhite posted seven points in the Eagles’ 54-51 win over Holly Pond Saturday. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Cullman County Tournament action continued with a matchup between Holly Pond and Vinemont’s JV Boys Saturday afternoon and their battle came down to the wire. The Eagles led by as many as 19 at one point but had to withstand a big second half from the Broncos to squeak out a thrilling, 54-51 win and advance to the semifinals.

Vinemont got off to a 6-0 start thanks to baskets from Colton Gillis, Hayden Robinson and Jeremy Harbison. Boston Gibbs scored on the other end to get the Broncos on the board and make it a 6-2 game but two more Gillis buckets allowed Holly Pond to pull ahead 10-4. Fox Westall scored to trim the lead to 10-6 with 30 seconds remaining in the first but Kaden Graham sank a pair of free throws in the final seconds of the period to make it a 12-7 game going into the second.

Both teams had more success on the offensive end in the second quarter. Cheston Wilhite buried a three to stretch Vinemont’s lead to 15-7 early in the period and back to back scores by Gillis made it a 19-8 game. Cade Allbright scored inside to trim the lead to 19-10 but a 10-0 run by the Eagles, capped off by an Isaiah Pair three-pointer, gave the Eagles a 29-10 lead with two minutes to play in the first half. Another Allbright basket followed by a three from Westall cut the lead to 29-15 and after Robinson responded with a three-pointer on the other end, Allbright scored the final six points of the quarter to bring the lead down to 32-21 going into the locker room at the break.

The third quarter was when the momentum began to shift. Gibbs scored inside and knocked down a three to cut the lead to 32-26 early in the period and Jayden Holloway laid one in to make it a 4-point game. Wilhite scored on the other end to build the lead back up to six but Holloway and Gibbs each scored for Holly Pond to trim the lead to 34-32. Gibbs got fouled on the next Broncos possession and he sank both free throws to tie the game at 34 with one minute remaining in the third. Holly Pond took its first lead of the day on a three-pointer from Asher Thrift in the final seconds of the quarter and the Broncos went into the fourth holding onto a 37-34 lead. Holly Pond outscored Vinemont 16-2 in the third quarter.

Holloway scored inside to make it 39-34 and a three-pointer by Westall extended the Holly Pond lead to 42-34 early in the fourth quarter. Gillis scored on the other end to stop the run and trim the lead to 42-36 and on the next Eagles possession, Graham converted an and-one play at the free throw line to make it a 43-39 game midway through the period. Robinson knocked down a jumper to bring the lead down to two and Wilhite netted a pair of free throws to tie the score at 43 with just over three minutes on the clock. Gillis laid one in and Robinson buried a three to put Vinemont up 48-43 with two minutes to play but a basket from Gibbs and a three-pointer by Gibbs on the other end tied things back up at 48. Westall drilled a three with 30 seconds remaining to put Holly Pond back in front 51-50 but the Eagles reclaimed a 52-51 lead with 15 seconds on the clock after a pair of Harbison free throws. Robinson stole the ball for Vinemont on the ensuing possession and Graham was fouled, sending him to the line with five seconds to play. Graham sank both free throws and the Broncos missed their final shot attempt as time expired, allowing the Eagles to hold on and win it 54-51.

Gillis led Vinemont with 16 points in the win. Graham finished with 14, Robinson posted 10 and Wilhite added seven. Gibbs led the way for Holly Pond with 15 points, followed by Westall with 11 and Allbright with 13.

Vinemont will advance to take on the top-seeded Fairview Aggies Monday at 5 p.m.

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