By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
It wasn’t quite the start Bobby Meyer was looking for, but when all was said and done, his Bearcat basketball team eked out a 53-49 win over Ravenwood High School in the first round of the Yule Tide Classic at Tom Drake Coliseum on Thursday night.
“That game was hard to describe,” Meyer said. “It was a grind to score and defend early in the game. It was definitely a hard one to earn.”
Both teams were sluggish out of the gate, especially the Bearcats, who committed an high amount of turnovers in the first half, trailing 21-17 going into the intermission.
Cullman (9-6) was able to get on a roll midway through the third quarter, however, taking just its second lead of the game on an Auston Neal layup assisted by a Lawson Schaffer behind-the-back pass with just over three minutes left to go.
In the fourth quarter, it was Schaffer who put the team on his back, scoring 10 of his 16 total points in the frame, including a 6-7 mark from the free-throw line to keep the Raptors at bay toward the end of the game.
The Raptors had a chance late, but the Bearcats’ Houston Turner hit two clutch free throw with 5.1 seconds left to advance Cullman to the winners’ bracket.
“We made some free throws tonight, we’ve been better at that lately,” Meyer added. “It’s part of the winning formula.”
Lane Donaldson added 10 for 11 for the Bearcats, while teammates Turner and Keaton Dean scored nine and seven points each, respectively.
Cullman will face Dallas County tonight at 8 p.m.
The Hornets narrowly escaped with a 34-32 over Newton, Ga. earlier in the evening.
“It was a good win against a very good, well-coached team,” Meyer said. “Dallas County is another good one as well.”
Tanner and Athens joined the Bearcats and Hornets in the winners’ circle on Thursday with big wins.
Tanner destroyed Gardendale by a final score of 64-32, while Athens had no trouble easing by Walker, 85-42.
Those two teams will meet in the other semifinal matchup today at 5 p.m.
% Northridge 54, Cullman 43: The Lady Bearcats kept it close early, but faded down the stretch against the Lady Jaguars, dropping their record to 7-6 on the year.
The Bearcats trailed at all quarter breaks, 13-14, 24-28 and 34-45.
Baylee Johnson gave a tremendous effort with 21 points, but the Bearcats were unable to find an answer for the Jaguars’ Kiana Johnson and KeKe Williams, whom combined for 30 of Northridge’s 54 points.
Cullman remained in the game late into the third quarter, cutting the Jaguar lead to three points on a Johnson 3-pointer.
Unfortunately for the Bearcats, Northridge closed the frame on a 10-2 run to lead by 11 heading into the fourth.
With the loss, the Bearcats will play at 12:30 p.m. today against 6A Hazel Green, while Northridge moves on to face Hartselle at 6:30 p.m.
Other winners included Holly Pond, who defeated Walker 52-22. They will move on to play Athens, who took care of business against Gardendale by a final of 53-37.
Those two will meet 3:30 p.m.
‰ Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.