- Cullman, Alabama

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December 26, 2013

WEST POINT CHRISTMAS TOURNEY: Cold Springs upsets Red Devils; Cofer eclipses 1,000 points in Raider win; Warriors top Danville

WEST POINT — Twelve ties. Twenty lead changes. One heckuva basketball game.

And one heckuva way to kick off this year’s West Point Christmas Tournament for Cold Springs, which received a combined 78 points from Josh Freeman, Triston Chambers and Layne Rice to cool down red-hot Lawrence County with an 82-76 upset on Thursday.

The No. 10 Eagles (Class 2A) went up for good on Freeman’s last of three 3-pointers with 2:10 remaining. The sharpshooting sophomore proceeded to drain a jumper and kiss in a layup to cap off a sparkling 37-point performance and help hand the fifth-ranked Red Devils (5A) the loss.

No team led by more than four points the entire second half until Freeman’s last layup put Cold Springs up by five with about a minute left on the clock.

While Freeman’s late trey was obviously a lifesaver, Eagle coach Tim Willoughby felt the turning point came a little bit earlier in the final frame.

Donivan Wheeler had just sank an inside basket to give Lawrence County a 71-67 advantage midway through the quarter and appeared to be in position to pad its cushion even more when Cold Springs misfired on the other end of the floor. Chambers bodied up in the paint for a putback, however, and followed a Rice free throw with a 3 to keep the Eagles on track for the victory.

“I thought that was huge just to keep it close because they’re the kind of team you just can’t afford to lose contact with,” Willoughby said of the sequence. “That scared me because offensively, they can score. But our players did a great job.”

As the coach saw Thursday, his squad can score on any given day, too, shooting lights out from the field to improve its record to 9-6. In addition to Freeman’s 37 points and trio of treys, Chambers cranked out 26 points and four 3-pointers. Rice rounded out his 15-point outing with three 3’s of his own, two in key spots in the second stanza and one to break a 45-all tie in the third quarter.

“The good thing about it was nothing was forced,” Willoughby said of the trio’s lofty shooting percentage. “I didn’t see any shots that made me say, ‘Oh, no,’ ‘Why?’ or anything like that when they left their hands. Offensively, they played together and looked like they knew what to do and how to play the game.

“Sometimes we do that, and sometimes we fall a little bit short. But when they share the ball like that and just play together as a team, I think the sky’s the limit. I really do.”

Austin Moore and Tyler Rice netted two points apiece for Cold Springs, which is slated to close out Day 2 versus Danville at 7:45 p.m.

Anthony Owens topped the charts for Lawrence County with 24 points, 15 of which came from long range. Wheeler finished with 17 points, and Jordan Simpson had 13.

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