PREP BASKETBALL: Cullman downs Albertville 73-56 to win Mike Dean Turkey Shootout

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The Cullman Bearcats defeated Albertville 73-56 Wednesday night to win this year’s Mike Dean Turkey Shootout. (Nick Griffin/The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Cullman was back on the court at Bearcat Arena Wednesday night to battle the unbeaten Albertville Aggies Wednesday night and the ‘Cats handed the Aggies their first loss of the season to claim this year’s Mike Dean Turkey Shootout championship. The Bearcats led 38-30 at the halftime break and outscored Albertville 35-26 in the second half to wrap up a 73-56 win. Cullman Head Coach Stu Stuedeman is pleased with the way his team is playing on the offensive end right now but wants to see the ‘Cats maintain their consistency on the defensive end of the floor.

“Our plan offensively is fantastic. The ball is moving and popping, we’re making open threes with confidence, we’re making layups, we’re getting paint touches and we’re really playing well as a team offensively,” Stuedeman said. “Day three of a tournament your defense is going to slack probably due to fatigue, but it can’t, especially when you’re playing against a team like them that can really shoot the ball and exploit you. We’ve got to be better on the defensive end. We’ve been pretty solid all season until tonight and we’ve got to be better at that to be the team we want to be.”

A basket by Colton Echols and a pair of Sam Duskin free throws gave Cullman an early, 4-3 lead and after Albertville drained a three on the other end, Jake Dorough laid one in to tie the game at 6. Duskin knocked down back to back three-pointers to put the Bearcats in front 12-8 midway through the first and after Jake Dorough basket, Duskin’s third trey of the opening period made it a 17-10 game. Gray Hopper scored inside to give Cullman a 19-12 lead and Jake Dorough split a pair of free throws in the final seconds of the first to put the ‘Cats ahead 20-16 going into the second.

Brodie Bannister buried a three to start the second quarter and give Cullman a 23-16 lead and a quick pair of Duskin buckets made it a 27-16 game midway through the period. Jake Dorough and Evan Wilson both got shots to fall later in the period, but the Aggies put together a scoring run to trim the lead to 33-30 at one point late in the second. Duskin scored to build the lead up to five and Jake Dorough converted an and-one play in the final minute of the half to put the Bearcats on top 38-30 at the break.

Baskets from Jake Dorough and Sam Duskin stretched the lead to 42-30 early in the third and then it was Kase Nixon’s turn to get hot. Nixon drilled back to back three-pointers to add to Cullman’s lead and Echols followed with a three of his own to make it a 51-35 game. Wilson laid one in and then knocked down a three from the top of the key to give the ‘Cats a 56-35 advantage late in the third and Echols scored in the final 20 seconds of the period to put Cullman ahead 60-46 going into the final frame.

Jake Dorough drained a three and Echols scored inside to extend the lead to 65-51 early in the fourth and Wilson got another tough basket in the paint to make it 67-51 with five minutes to play. A pair of Duskin free throws stretched the lead to 69-54 and Nixon found Wilson under the basket with a nice pass for an easy score to make it 71-56 with just under three minutes on the clock. Echols hit a pair of free throws with 1:30 remaining to give the Bearcats a 73-56 lead and those would be the final points of the night, capping off a 73-56 victory and a Mike Dean Turkey Shootout championship for Cullman.

Stuedeman was happy to get the win, but he was also excited to see a good crowd of black and gold supporters turn out during a holiday break.

“It means the world to us. Everyone is on Thanksgiving break, and we still have 1,500-1,700 people in the gym supporting these guys. I think it’s a testament to who our players are. They’re great kids in the community, they’re great in the schoolhouse and they’re just good people so people want to come watch them. We’re very thankful for our fans, they’re the best in the state bar none.”

Duskin led the ‘Cats with 21 points in the win, followed by Dorough with 17. Echols and Wilson each added 11 points. Duskin, Wilson, Echols and Nixon earned all-tournament honors and Dorough was selected as tournament MVP.

The Bearcats will travel to Corinth, Mississippi to compete in this year’s Lighthouse Classic Saturday.

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