By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
Lane Horton Gymnasium is officially back in business for basketball.
Hanceville’s junior varsity boys christened the rebuilt building 57-40, but the Bulldogs’ varsity girls weren’t able to follow suit, falling 69-33 to visiting West Point on Thursday night.
Both teams had to shake off a bit of offseason rust before the Warriors fell into a groove and never looked back.
Hanceville jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but West Point responded in time to take an 11-7 advantage into the second quarter. The Warriors extended their cushion to 38-23 by halftime, 53-29 by the start of the final frame and accounted for the last 14 points to easily cruise to the season-opening victory.
Mallory Walker and Madison Rusk proved to be a potent 1-2 punch for the Maroon and White. The former went wild for 22 points, including 10 and two of her three 3-pointers in the third quarter, while the latter was steady all evening to wrap up with 17 points. Jeri Beasley joined Walker and Rusk in double-figures with 11 points.
Other West Point (1-0) contributors were Lexie Burdette, seven points; Tess Hembree, six; and Alexis Bell and Daeshia Smith, three apiece.
Taylor Hollingsworth was the driving force for Hanceville (0-1) and the primary reason the Dawgs kept it close for much of the first half, scoring all 14 of her points in the first three quarters.
Lexi Cooper pitched in seven points for the Purple and Gold, Kayka Flanigan and Bebe Flannigan each had four, and Mariah Twitty and Masee Hollis chipped in two apiece.
The varsity boys game was rescheduled for Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. because Hanceville was fresh off a first-round football game last Friday.
Both Bulldog squads had called Wallace State’s Tom Drake Coliseum home for the past two seasons after the April 27, 2011 tornadoes heavily damaged their previous gymnasium. The new digs are complete with stadium seating on the home side, spiffy locker rooms and coaches’ offices, a spacious lobby and concession area, a weight room and a variety of other amenities.
West Point will head home for a county contest against Vinemont Friday night. Hanceville will host Cordova next Tuesday.
% Cullman 52, Butler 7: The Lady Bearcats improved to 2-1 on the young season with a bruising win over the Rebels in their home-opener on Thursday evening.
% Butler 88, Cullman 87: The Black and Gold led 68-55 after three quarters but weren’t able to hang on for their first win of season at home on Thursday night.
The Rebels completed their comeback bid with a 3-pointer with 7 seconds remaining to defeat Cullman (0-3) for the second time in a week. Butler was also victorious in the consolation game at the inaugural Wallace State Tip-Off Challenge.
The Bearcats’ ninth-grade and JV boys earned wins earlier in the evening.
The Black and Gold will stay put for a contest against Lawrence County next Tuesday.
Stats for Cullman’s boys and girls were unknown at presstime.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 138 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.