Winfrey, who has continued to recover at a remarkable pace since suffering severe injuries in a car accident one year ago this month, led the Black and Gold onto the court, where the boys surrounded him for a quick prayer before pre-game warmups. Coaches then cleared a folding chair in the middle of the bench so Winfrey could be right in the thick of the action with his friends and teammates.
Donaldson called Winfrey Cullman's inspiration, and Schaffer said having him on the floor meant everything to the team.
“He's a heck of an athlete, and I'd do anything for him,” Schaffer said of Winfrey. “I'm just blessed to be out there. I just wish he could be out there with us.”
Forrest nearly joined Schaffer and Donaldson in double figures with nine points, while freshman Seth Swalve came through with six and Houston Turner, five. Keaton Dean and Lee Mattox contributed four points apiece; Austin Beck, two; and Jason McAfee and Auston Neal, one each.
“If we play as a team, nobody can stop us,” Schaffer said. “We're a great unit. All 13 of us know what we're doing. We believe in our coach (Bobby Meyer), everything he says and everything he does.”
Kris Keller picked up nine of his team-high 13 points in the second half, while fellow Warriors Ryder Jones and Wesley Smith both concluded the night with eight points. Nick Nuss dropped in six points; Riley Voce, three; and Tristan Dubberly and Josh Looney, two apiece.
The Bearcats can now turn their attention to Monday's area championship against East Limestone, which advanced earlier in the night with a too-close-for-comfort 64-57 win over Hartselle.
Cullman failed to beat the area host in either regular season meeting but is confident it can come out on top at 6 p.m. on Monday.
“We just want a good win and to play with the same defensive intensity,” Schaffer said.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at email@example.com.