By Jake Winfrey
The Cullman Times
Vinemont’s varsity girls squad was a mere eight minutes away from starting its season with two straight losses.
Katie Speer, however, had other plans in mind.
The senior guard dished out eight of her game-high 18 points in the fourth quarter to help the Eagles (1-1) erase a double-digit deficit and come away with a hard-fought 47-42 victory over St. Bernard on Thursday evening.
“Katie worked really hard out there for us,” Eagle coach Lance Lay said following his team’s triumph. “She was the difference in the game tonight. She outhustled everybody out there.”
For three quarters, it seemed as though the Saints (1-3) were well on their way to picking up an easy win, as both Zoie Wilson and Katherine Gamble were terrorizing the interior of the Eagle defense, while limiting Vinemont’s offense on the other end of the court.
Leading 23-19 coming out of halftime, St. Bernard scored 12 of the next 18 points in the contest to grasp an 11-point lead with a little more than six minutes remaining in the game.
Enter the Eagles’ Syndey Wallace.
She knocked down two 3-pointers around another trey from teammate Autumn Barnette to suddenly cut the deficit to just three points.
“It was hard to get points tonight,” Lay said. “Those two big shots from Sydney really helped us out from there.”
Vinemont wasn’t done there, either, as Casey Westmoreland scored a layup at the four-minute mark to give her team its first lead since the opening basket of the contest.
From there, it was simply a matter of making free throws — Wallace made two and Speer added three to go along with a game-sealing layup with less than 10 seconds on the clock.
“Getting that first win is always a relief every year,” said Lay, whose team garnished its victory by outscoring the Saints 25-11 in the fourth quarter.
Along with Speer, Wallace netted 10 points for the Eagles, while Barnette garnered seven. Westmoreland and freshman Zoe Thomas were each good for six as well.
Wilson was the top scorer for St. Bernard with 17 points to go along with a number of rebounds. Other Saint contributors included Gambrill, 10 points; Alli Messick, six; and Zana Wilson and Michayla Brown, four apiece.
Vinemont will travel to West Point on Friday, while St. Bernard will hop on a bus to Whitesburg Christian on Monday.
% Vinemont 59, St. Bernard 17: Following a tough defeat to Cold Springs on Tuesday, the Eagles were all business Thursday in a 42-point hammering of the Saints.
Todd Johnson’s squad came roaring out of the gate, scoring the game’s first 21 points by way of easy baskets gained by a fearsome full-court press that gave St. Bernard (1-3) fits all night.
The Red and White (1-1) led at the quarter breaks 17-0, 24-2 and 53-13 and were never threatened in the contest.
“We had times tonight where we played crisp basketball,” Johnson said. “We needed that after the loss to Cold Springs. There were some times we didn’t play too smart against them and it cost us the game. I’m proud of the guys for coming out and playing like they did.”
The Eagles had 10 players find spots in the scorebook with sophomore Lance Stanley pacing the way with 13 points. Zack Drake was next in line with seven points, while Tyler Tucker and Hunter Rollins each dropped in six.
For the Saints, John Gurtowski collected seven points and sophomore guard Dean Smith was good for four. Gavin Harris and Christian Garcia each added a trey in the loss as well.
% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.