The Cullman Times
HARTSELLE — The first half of Tuesday's area battle against arch-rival Hartselle wasn't exactly memorable for Cullman's boys basketball team. The second, however, will be one they won't forget anytime soon.
The Bearcats overcame an early double-digit deficit with terrific team defense in the second half and drained all of their free throws in the fourth quarter to earn a gritty 63-57 win over the Tigers. The victory was their seventh in a row and first at Hartselle since Cullman coach Bobby Meyer took over the program in 2010.
“It didn't come easy, but we found a way to win it,” Meyer said. “We were able to play better defense in the second half, which was really the key. That's not an easy place to go get a win.”
Lawson Schaffer saved 10 of his team-high 18 points for the second half, and center Houston Turner scored all 16 of his points in the final 16-minute stretch after landing in foul trouble in the first half.
Turner led a brilliant showing by the Bearcats at the charity stripe. He sank all 10 of his shots from the gimme distance, including eight in the fourth quarter. As a team, Cullman was a flawless 14 of 14 from the free-throw line in the final frame.
“That's a big stat right there,” Meyer said.
Up next after Schaffer and Turner was Troy Forrest with 11 points, followed by Lane Donaldson with eight and Lukas McNeal with six. Auston Neal scored three points and Keaton Dean had two for the Bearcats.
The Black and Gold are now 13-6 (2-2 in area play) after a so-so 5-6 start to the season. They will host rival West Point in another crucial area contest on Friday before heading to Birmingham to take on Briarwood in the Bama Shootout the very next day.
“It's a big week for us,” Meyer said. “West Point is our only focus right now, though.”
% The Times' sports editor Rob Ketcham contributed to this report.