By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
HOLLY POND —
It took West Point awhile to get going, but once it did, the Warriors stormed back in the second half to take a thrilling 55-52 win over Cullman in the championship game of the 56th annual Holly Pond Thanksgiving Tournament.
The game went back and forth into the final minutes, with the Warriors being victorious only after Cullman’s Lawson Schaffer came up short on his 3-pointer that would have sent the game into overtime.
“It’s always an exciting game when these two teams get together,” Warrior coach Randy Jones said. “It was a very hard fought game on both sides.”
Trailing 24-17 at halftime, the Warriors used a sizable run to overtake the Bearcats by three heading into the fourth quarter.
Then, it got interesting.
The two teams traded numerous baskets deep in the final quarter.
A Bearcat bucket cut West Point’s lead to two with just over two minutes to play.
From there, both teams were shaky, missing several free throws each.
With 13 seconds left, West Point’s Wesley Smith stepped up the line with a chance to ice the game.
However, Smith’s second attempt clanged of the front of the rim, giving Cullman a chance to tie the game.
Unfortunately for the Bearcats, Shaffer’s game-tying attempt fell short just as the buzzer sounded.
It was a dominating second half for the Warriors as they outscored Cullman 38-28 in the come-from-behind win.
The Warriors used a fast-tempo, full-court press to garner turnovers and easy baskets for themselves.
“It’s been our motto this year,” Jones said. “We’ve trailed in a lot of games at halftime. But we really picked up our play in the second half and I think it just goes to show what kind of group we have this year.”
Smith led the Warriors with 14 points. Teammates Kris Keller and Josh Looney each had nine points, while Tristan Dubberly chipped in with eight and Ryder Jones added six.
For the second-place Bearcats, Schaffer put in 17 points with Seth Swalve adding 10 and Austin Neal, six.
West Point will seek to continue its momentum as its welcomes in Hayden next Tuesday night.
Cullman, on the other hand, will travel to Walker on Friday night.
% Holly Pond 64, Vinemont 42
In the tournament’s consulation game, the Broncos rebounded from their loss against West Point to clobber Vinemont by 22 points.
The game was close heading into the fourth quarter, but Holly Pond outscored the Eagles 20-7, turning it into a rout.
Colby Adams led all scorers with 22 points, while Austin Smith turned in a not-too-shabby 21 point output of his own.
Cody Jones added 10 points in the win for the Broncos.
The Eagles were aided by Lance Stanley’s 18 points, while Duncan Hopper and Garrett Sipe each had 10 in the loss.
% Fairview/Locust Fork
Fairview defeated Locust Fork in the fifth-place game earlier in the day.
No score or stats are known for the game.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.