By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Morgan Smith propelled Cullman with a double-double as the Lady Bearcats overcame a hot start by East Limestone, defeating the Indians 54-41 Thursday night to advance to the Class 5A, Area 15 title game.
The senior came up big once again, tallying 16 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists in the victory.
“Morgan played great,” coach Jonathan Hayes said. “I thought the key tonight, though, was our outstanding defense.”
East Limestone jumped out to an early 10-2 lead, but Cullman (16-10) was able to settle down in the second quarter, taking a nine-point advatange into the locker room.
Hayes said although his team didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, it was still able to get its fair amount of easy baskets.
“Our good team defense and rebounding really helped us out,” he said. “We had a lot of transition points. Most of those were run-out layups.”
Baylee Johnson aided Smith with 13 points and three steals, while Hayden Short was good for 10 points and nine rebounds.
Other Bearcat contributors included Blair Nall, eight points, six rebounds and three assists; Emily Tucker, four points; Hannah Shelton, two; and Christina Skinner, one.
The win advances Cullman to the area championship game, where the Bearcats will take on Hartselle Saturday at 6 p.m.
The Tigers advanced earlier in the evening by defeating West Point 51-39 on their home court.
The Warriors held a slim lead in the fourth quarter, but a late 10-0 run by Hartselle helped the Tigers pull away late.
West Point concluded its season with a 12-12 record.
% Locust Fork 58, Fairview 52: The Aggies came up just short in their upset bid of the Hornets, losing a six-point heartbreaker on Thursday night to end their season.
Fairview entered the fourth quarter trailing by eight points but cut its deficit to as little as one down the stretch.
Unfortunately for Cheryl Mangum’s squad, it couldn’t get any closer, as the Hornets pulled out the victory.
Julia Creel tallied 15 points and seven rebounds in her sendff with the Aggies, while Marlana Johnson dropped in 12 to go along with six boards.Sarah Harper notched an even eight points and eight rebounds. Kennedy Trimble netted five as well.
% The Rest: Addison’s season came to a close Thursday with a 67-45 defeat to Decatur Heritage.
% The Times’ sports writer Jake Winfrey contributed to this report.