By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
WEST POINT —
As tournament director, West Point coach Randy Jones wants all participants to head home happy at the end of each day.
But not too happy.
No one could blame the Warriors for being ungracious hosts on Friday, as Will Wrenn and Ryder Jones took care of business in the paint and on the perimeter to hold off Priceville for a 64-57 victory.
The Maroon and White led by as many as 15 points in the first half and 10 multiple times in the third quarter, but the Bulldogs were determined not to go down without a fight.
West Point never fully let its Day 2 opponent get back in it, though, stretching a three-point advantage with 4:50 remaining out to a slightly more comfortable cushion the Bulldogs ultimately couldn’t overcome.
Jones scored six of his 22 points in the final stretch, while Bryant Farley sank a pair of late free throws for his only points to keep Priceville at bay.
“I was proud of the guys for keeping their focus and composure and finishing off the game,” said coach Jones, whose squad improved to 9-7 overall and 2-0 in tournament play. “We could’ve easily lost our composure and lost that one. We’re still young, but we’re maturing really well. I like where we are right now.”
Warrior fans have had more than a season to watch the younger Jones’ maturation process, but they’ve just started to see the kind of potential Wrenn possesses.
The 6-foot forward kicked off the scoring with a 3-pointer and never really let up, sinking three more treys along the way. Wrenn worked his magic inside during the second quarter and eventually set up shop from behind the arc for much of the third and fourth frames. No matter his placement on the court, the junior was as good as gold — and Jones couldn’t have been happier.
The coach also couldn’t help but talk up the steady improvement of Farley at point guard.
“Both those guys are JV guys from last year, and they’re just getting better,” Jones said of the two. “I think we’ve got some pieces that people have a hard time stopping inside or outside. The guys did a good job of setting Will up tonight, and he knocked down some shots. Will can do that. He’s a good shooter.”
West Point senior Tristan Dubberly followed up a dazzling Day 1 performance with seven points. Levi Laney, Tanner Rusk and Zack Tilley all piled on three points apiece, while Riley Voce netted one.
Ryley Mason came through with 23 points for the Bulldogs. Kaleb Barker had 14.
The Warriors will likely need to get by Lawrence County Friday at 6:30 p.m. to stay in the running for the tournament’s Cullman County trophy. If two teams tie for the top spot, the title comes down to opponents' records. The final tiebreaker would be the least points allowed for the tourney.
% Cold Springs 55, Danville 51: After exiting the locker room with a 30-13 advantage, the Eagles appeared to be well on their way to a snazzy 2-0 start at their county rival’s annual holiday tournament.
And as it turned out, the Blue and Gold (10-6) did indeed escape with that 2-0 start, but not before surviving an insane comeback bid by the 3A Hawks.
Danville closed the gap to 37-36 at the end of the third quarter and actually took a four-point lead with two minutes to go on the hot shooting of Patrick Doherty, who nailed four 3’s in the final frame.
But with its back against the wall, 2A No. 10 Cold Springs began to play its best ball, scoring 11 points on its last four possessions to get back on top for good. Layne Rice accounted for two of those points, and Josh Freeman and Triston Chambers combined for six in the final 60 seconds on back-to-back treys.
“The last two minutes of the game, when it really looked like we were going to lose, we played about as well as we could,” Eagle coach Tim Willoughby said. “It was too close for comfort, but it turned out good. That’s all that matters.”
Chambers and Rice both pitched in 14 points, while Adam Carney came off the bench for 12.
“That was big for us,” Willougby said of Carney’s contributions, which consisted of four 3-pointers.
Other Cold Springs contributors were Freeman, seven points; Tyler Rice and Peyton Dickerson, three apiece; and Austin Moore, two.
The Eagles will have their opportunity to secure a 3-0 record and, quite possibly, the county tournament title when they take on Brewer Saturday at 5:15 p.m.
% Fairview 51, Brewer 34: The Aggies missed an awful lot of shots, were sloppy with the ball and never really into any type of rhythm.
Luckily for the Purple and Gold, the Patriots were far worse in every single category — and even that might be a vast understatement.
“I guess I’d rather have an ugly win than a pretty loss,” said Fairview senior Elijah Garrison, who scored a game-high 18 points.
And boy was the Aggies’ fifth win ugly.
Brewer couldn’t buy a basket in the first half, shooting just 11.5 percent over the 16-minute stretch. Things did get better in the second half, but not by much, as indicated by the 21.1 percent mark the Patriots touted by game’s end.
Compared to those low numbers, the Purple and Gold’s stats were through the roof. The victors made just a shade less than 35 percent of their shots in the first half and finished with a 37-percent clip overall.
Fairview built on an 8-1 lead after the first quarter with an 11-0 run in the second to build an advantage Brewer never had a chance of catching up to. The Aggies were up 24-10 and 39-23 at each of the other quarter breaks.
The contest became extremely chippy in the third quarter. Double technicals were doled out not even three minutes after intermission, resulting in the ejection of a Patriot player. Tempers flared a few more times throughout but never to the point the officials needed to intervene again.
Ethan Widner nearly racked up a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Chance Hill came off the bench for five points in the fourth quarter and eight overall. Other Fairview contributors were Tyler Yearwood, five points, eight rebounds and three blocks; Devan Parker, five points; and Hunter Brewer, two points and eight rebounds.
Tristan Cobb corraled 12 points for Brewer.
The Aggies will get Saturday’s four-game slate rolling at 4 p.m. against Danville.
% Lawrence County 91, Good Hope 64: The fifth-ranked Red Devils (Class 5A) shot out of the gates with 10 points in the first minute and 30 seconds, an early indication of the offensive explosion that followed.
Despite the early setback, the all-out hustle of Tyler Vanderburg allowed the Raiders to stay within shouting distance at the end of the first quarter. The junior sensation went off for Good Hope’s first eight points and finished the frame with 10, helping cut the deficit to 21-15 entering the second stanza.
The next eight minutes was the Anthony Owens’ show. The Lawrence County sharpshooter drained drain four of his five 3-pointers and put up 14 of his game-high 23 points in the decisive quarter, which came to a close with the Raiders trailing 48-31.
Vanderburg shone the brightest for Good Hope with 22 points, while Eli Marty and Andy Cofer both rounded up 12, the latter on four baskets from behind the arc. Other Raider contributors were Kainan Smith, nine points; Mason Johnson, five; and Jonathan Grigsby and Chris Raper, two each.
The Red Devils made 11 total treys and had the same number of players score at least one point.
Good Hope (6-10) will close out the tournament versus Priceville at 7:45 p.m. Saturday.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at email@example.com.