By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
When Fairview and Hanceville met just two weeks ago at Tom Drake Coliseum, the Aggies were able to outlast the Bulldogs and sneak away with a 52-49 victory.
In Friday night’s rendition of the rivalry, however, it was a completely different story, as Fairview handled Hanceville 53-42, clinching its berth in the championship game of the Cullman County Basketball Tournament for a third straight season.
Elijah Garrison was the cream of the crop for the Purple and Gold, scoring 15 points. The junior also played top-notch defense on the Bulldogs’ sophomore star, Brontae Harris.
“It’s a good win for us,” Garrison said. “We had beaten them twice so far, so we knew they wanted to beat us tonight. They’re a good team, and I give them a lot of credit.”
Harris got off to a blistering start for Hanceville, scoring 10 points to help his team take a 13-8 lead after one quarter of play.
Fairview was able to settle down in the second quarter, though, as Garrison knocked in six points, while Andy Hendrix and Peter Kessler each added a trey to give the Aggies a five-point advantage heading into the locker room.
Fairview built its lead to as many as nine points midway through the third quarter, but back-to-back 3-pointers by Hanceville’s Matt Burns and Marshall Johnson cut the Purple and Gold’s lead to three.
Garrison had an answer, though, completing a 3-point play after a pair of Hendrix free throws to extend his team’s cushion back to eight heading into the fourth.
“I saw the lane open, Peter made a great pass, and my teammates set good screens,” Garrison said. “Give them the credit. I just made the shot.”
The momentum-shifting play carried over into the final frame as Fairview started the quarter on an 11-0 run to end any thoughts of a Hanceville comeback.
Harris, who ignited the Bulldogs in the first, scored just 12 points over the final three quarters and finished with 22 points.
“We went to a diamond-and-one defense in the second half,” Garrison added. “Blake (Parker) and I guarded Brontae and tried to make him shoot over our length. He still made some shots, though. He’s a great player.”
Parker finished with 12 points, while Hendrix added 11.
Luke Bailey tallied eight points; Kessler, six; and Marco Rodriguez, one.
Chants of, “We want West Point,” rang out from the Aggies’ student section late in the game.
The Warriors defeated Fairview 63-51 in last year’s title game to spoil the Aggies’ tournament.
Garrison and his teammates will get their chance to flip the script on Saturday when they take on the Warriors at 7:30 p.m.
“We aren’t really looking at last year,” he said. “It’s two different teams. We just have to play ball and whatever happens, happens.”
Burns and Chris Smith each finished with six points, while Johnson and Keith Twitty added a trey apiece. Tyler Tankersley contributed two points.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.