For three quarters of Friday night’s area game between West Point and Cullman, it seemed as though the Warriors were all set to make it a season sweep over their county rival.
But, like they have all season long, the Bearcats (14-6, 3-2 in Class 5A, Area 15 play) refused to quit, storming back in the fourth quarter to defeat the Warriors by a final score of 44-38.
“We were able to clamp down defensively,” Cullman coach Bobby Meyer said. “That was the difference in the game.”
Both teams struggled early on the offensive side with the Bearcats’ losing guard Lawson Schaffer to an ankle injury late in the first quarter.
The Warriors were unable to take full advantage, however, leading by just a single point at the half.
Schaffer returned at the start of the third quarter and made his presence known quickly.
The sophomore knocked in in four points, dropped two dimes to Houston Turner and grabbed a steal to give the Bearcats a six-point advantage in the opening minutes of the second half.
“We were out of our offensive flow early when Lawson went down,” Meyer said. “But he gutted it out in the second half and played well on a bad ankle.”
From there, West Point responded emphatically, going on a 13-0 run of their own, punctuated by a Josh Looney half-court shot that gave the Warriors a six-point lead heading into the game’s final stanza.
The fourth quarter was all Cullman.
Bearcat forward Troy Forrest scored eight of his 11 points as his team outscored West Point 13-2 in the final eight minutes, securing its eighth victory in a row.
“We just stayed the course defensively,” Meyer added. “I told them heading into the fourth that this was a marathon, not a sprint. I think we played much better toward the end.”
Turner finished with eight points for the ‘Cats, while teammates Schaffer and Auston Neal added seven and six points, respectively.
The Warriors (14-7, 2-3) were led by Ryder Jones’ eight points, while Tristan Dubberly collected seven.
Cullman takes to the court today in the Bama Shootout against Briarwood High School, while West Point will head to Lawrence County on Tuesday.
% West Point 44, Cullman 41: The Warriors avenged an early-season loss on Friday night, edging the home team by three points.
West Point (9-9, 2-3) outplayed Cullman (10-8, 3-2) in the fourth quarter and made its free throws when they counted to secure its fourth-straight victory.
Madison Rusk scored 10 of her 19 points in the final frame, including the go-ahead bucket with 33 seconds left.
One of the Warriors’ other key contributors was forward Jamie Beasley.
The junior scored eight points while playing lockdown defense on the other end.
Tasked to guard the Bearcats’ Morgan Smith most of the night, Beasley was up to the challenge, limiting Smith to just eight points, well below her season average.
“I just faced up and got low,” Beasley said. “Our defense was great in the fourth quarter and it gave us our offense.”
Free throws were also key for West Point down the stretch.
After missing 10 of its first 19 attempts through three quarters, the Warriors buckled down, converting on nine of their last 12 from the charity stripe.
“I’m proud of our team,” Beasley added. “It was a good area win for us.”
Rachel Persall added nine points for the Warriors.
Baylee Johnson was the Bearcats’ leading scorer with 16 points, while Hayden Short netted eight and Blair Nall, six.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 258 or at email@example.com.