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June 26, 2014

PREP BASKETBALL: Schaffer, Swalve lead Bearcats to summer league title

CULLMAN — “Fast32” was alive and well Thursday evening at the Wellness and Aquatic Center.

The dynamic duo of Lawson Schaffer and Seth Swalve carved up Priceville’s defense for a combined 39 points, sending Cullman well on its way to a 65-48 win in the title tilt of the Cullman Parks and Recreation Department summer league.

Schaffer, a Class 5A All-State first-teamer this past winter, let loose for 13 of his 23 points in the first half. Swalve, the state’s record holder for highest free-throw percentage in a season (95.1), made a mark late with 11 of his 16 points in the second half.

The Bearcats closed out the four-week session with a 7-1 record. Priceville was 6-2. Both Bulldog losses were dished out by the Black and Gold.

“It feels good. It’s always nice to win championships like this,” Schaffer said. “There’s a lot of good teams in it. We’re just happy we were able to come out here and play well most of the time. We didn’t always play our best, not always up to our potential, but we played good enough to win, and that’s all that matters.”

Cullman’s lightning-quick offense runs at its smoothest when shots are falling from behind the arc. That wasn’t a problem Thursday, with Jason McAfee joining Schaffer and Swalve with a pair of 3-pointers apiece. Chase Slocumb, Gage Goodwin and Fletcher Reeling all sank one.

“Our M.O. is the 3-ball,” Schaffer said. “As long as we get the 3-ball going, that opens up the whole game for everybody. I feel like we did that well tonight.”

McAfee contributed six points, while Slocumb and Nicholas Handley each had five. Kaleb Barker and Luke Mason both scored 10 points to pace Priceville, which came as close as four points in the first half and six in the second. Cullman crushed any chances the Bulldogs had of a comeback by ending the game on an 11-0 run.  

With a year of coach Bobby Meyer’s “Fast32” philosophy under their belts, the ’Cats will look this winter to build on a supreme 2013-14 campaign. The squad bowed out in the regional semis against Parker, the eventual 5A state champ, but not before averaging almost 80 points a game and escaping a tricky schedule with a snazzy 24-8 record.

Thursday’s summer championship gave Swalve every reason to believe the Black and Gold, who’re transitioning to 6A, will be right back in the playoff fold when the upcoming season rolls around.

“It’s just good to show the people in the community a preview for next year,” he said.

“Fast32” electrified the Cullman fanbase, but, like most laptops and cell phones these days, is already obsolete. According to Swalve, though, there’s a sleeker version just waiting to be unleashed.

“Faster32,” he said. “Each year, we want to built it up more and more.”

Holly Pond, which defeated Cullman in last summer’s final, wrapped up third place by staving off Cold Springs for a 45-36 victory.

Austin Smith led the Broncos (6-2) with 12 points, followed by Matt Cahoon with nine and Drew Jones with eight. The latter connected on two treys, as did Smith and Cody Jones.

Triston Chambers topped the Eagles (4-4) with eight points. Cayde Elliott pitched in seven points. Fisher Willoughby and Derick Isbell both had five.

Isaac Weissend’s sudden-death 3-pointer in double overtime handed Hanceville a 61-58 win over Fairview in the fifth-place game. The Dawgs’ Jose Orozco tied the contest at 58-58 with a steal and subsequent layup with 10 seconds remaining in regulation.



% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 157 or at robk@cullmantimes.com.

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