COUNTY TOURNAMENT: Broncos roll past Vinemont 61-49, advance to semifinals

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Holly Pond’s Diego Garcia drives through defenders to get to the basket during the Broncos’ 61-49 win over Vinemont Wednesday night. (Bill Piper/The Cullman Tribune)

HANCEVILLE, Ala. – Our second Cullman County Tournament contest Wednesday night was another varsity matchup and this time it was the Holly Pond Broncos squaring off against the Vinemont Eagles. The first quarter featured seven lead changes, but Holly Pond began to take control midway through the second and continued pulling away in the second half to secure a 61-49 win over the Eagles.

Both teams traded the lead back and forth throughout most of the opening period. Holly Pond baskets from Gunner McBee, Levi Farr and Kollin Brown were matched by Isaac Moody and Isaiah Jones on the other end for Vinemont. Moody scored inside to put the Broncos in front 9-6 and a pair of free throws from Conner Gibbs stretched the lead to 11-6 with two minutes remaining in the first. However, Holly Pond responded and seized the momentum in the final two minutes, closing out the quarter with an 8-0 run to take a 14-11 lead into the second.

The scoring run continued into the second quarter. Blake Rickard knocked down a three from the left corner and Christian Couch sank a pair of free throws to make it a 19-11 game. Jones converted an and-one play at the line to stop the run and cut the lead to five but Rickard answered with another three-pointer on the ensuing possession to build the lead back up to 22-14 midway through the second. Diego Garcia followed with a three of his own to extend the lead to 25-14 and McBee scored the next five points of the game to make it 30-14 with three minutes remaining in the first half. Jaxon Holcomb laid one in to trim the lead to 30-16 and Chayce Sandlin buried a three with 20 seconds on the clock to bring the lead down to 30-19 at the break.

Baskets by Rickard and Farr added to the Bronco lead early in the third quarter and Rickard’s third three-pointer of the night made it a 37-19 game. Sandlin and Rickard exchanged free throws to keep the score at 39-21 midway through the period but scores from McBee and Couch stretched the lead out to 43-21 late in the third. Jones hit a pair of shots in the final minute of the quarter but Vinemont went into the final frame trailing the Broncos 45-25.

Brown drained a pair of free throws and Couch laid one in to keep Holly Pond in front 49-27 early in the fourth. Moody drilled a three from the right wing to make it 49-30 and free throws by Holcomb and Jones trimmed the lead to 49-34 with five minutes to play. The Broncos held onto a 53-36 lead midway through the fourth but Ryan Stewart knocked down a three for the Eagles from the top of the key to cut the lead to 14. Kollin Brown laid one in on the other end to make it a 55-39 game with two minutes on the clock and Holly Pond held off a late push from Vinemont to advance with a 61-49 win.

Rickard led the way for the Broncos with 15 points in the win, followed by McBee with 11 and Couch and Brown with eight. Jones posted 17 for the Eagles in the loss and Moody added 16.

Holly Pond will be back on the court Friday at 6:30 p.m. to play Hanceville with a spot in the county championship game on the line.

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