By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
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.
% Good Hope 62, Brewer 46: Andy Cofer tickled the twine on four 3-pointers and churned out a team-high 20 points to lift the Raiders to their second straight win.
The senior nailed a shot from behind the arc in all four quarters, but none was sweeter than the one Cofer collected in the second stanza. The smooth shooter eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for his prep career with a swish shorthly before halftime.
“I honestly can’t say enough about him. He is one of the hardest-working young men I’ve ever had the privilege to coach,” the Red and White’s Mike Jones said. “He’s a gym rat, but he puts team first. As good as he is, he is an even better young man off the court. I am very proud to be his coach.”
Eli Marty did his fair share of damage from downtown, too, piling on four 3’s of his own to account for almost all of his 14-point performance. Three of those treys came in the first half, when Good Hope (6-9) twice build a 16-point lead that allowed it to stave off a horde of comeback attempts by the Patriots.
The closest Brewer ever got was within six, twice. Cofer came up big in each instance, though, making an inside shot in the third quarter and jumpstarting the fourth with a 3 to keep the Patriots at a comfortable distance.
Other Raider contributors were Tyler Vanderburg, nine points; Kainan Smith and Jonathan Grigsby, seven each; Mason Johnson, three; and Chris Raper, two.
Kolton Bramlett was Brewer’s high scorer with 22 points. He racked up five 3-pointers.
Good Hope will look to make it three in a row Friday at 5:15 p.m. against Lawrence County.
% West Point 70, Danville 58: Tristan Dubberly continued a sensational senior campaign, and the host Warriors didn’t play nice with the visiting Hawks in the third game on Thursday’s docket.
Dubberly was deadly from pretty much everywhere on the court, shooting 4 of 9 from behind the arc and 5 of 6 from 2-point range en route to a game-high 22-point display.
West Point (8-7) and Danville were deadlocked at 11-all after the first frame, but the Warriors used a 26-12 second quarter to take a commanding lead they never let slip.
Ryder Jones was next in line for the Maroon and White with 14 points and nine rebounds, followed by Will Wrenn and Bryant Farley, who put up 10 points apiece. Other West Point contributors were Levi Laney, seven points; Tanner Rusk, four; and Zack Tilley, three.
Patrick Doherty and Andres Cordova both scored 17 points for Danville. Alan Cordova tacked on 15.
The Warriors will fall in the third slot on the schedule again on Friday, taking on Priceville at 6:30 p.m.
% Priceville 60, Fairview 57: The Aggies came up just short in their bid to complete a Cullman County sweep on Day 1, closing out play Thursday with a close three-point loss.
The Purple and Gold trailed by as many as 18 early in the fourth quarter before clawing back into contention with a 23-13 outburst over the last eight minutes.
Fairview's biggest strength was its free-throw shooting. The Aggies sank 15 of 19 attempts, spearheaded by Elijah Garrison's perfect 9-of-9 clip. The senior added 14 points from the field to complete a team-high 23-point outing. He also swiped four steals.
Tyler Yearwood did his part with 11 points and six rebounds. Other Purple and Gold contributors were Sid Smith, eight points; Ethan Widner, seven; Devan Parker, six; and Hunter Brewer, two.
Luke Mason scored 19 points for Priceville. Kyle Haynes had 12.
Fairview will get Friday's action going against Brewer at 4 p.m.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at email@example.com.