By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
Everyone knows that if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Good Hope tried and tried to beat Vinemont during the regular season but finally succeeded on Monday night.
It couldn’t have come at a better time.
Alex Cofer went beast mode for 19 points and Zack Sloan unleashed 16 points off the bench, lifting the Raiders to a 58-50 triumph in the varsity boys’ play-in game of the Cullman County Basketball Tournament.
The victory was Good Hope’s third of the 2012-13 campaign and first in 11 attempts against county opponents.
“I think it’s a big motivational win,” Sloan said. “We’ve fought all season. We’re a real scrappy team, and we never believe we’re out of a game.”
Cofer set the tone in a hurry, draining a 3-pointer to give the Raiders a lead they never let go of. The center went on to contribute in every way imaginable, pulling down key rebounds, making baskets inside and out, and swatting away shots with authority.
“I was trying to play my hardest against a great, well-coached team,” Cofer said. “I knew they had that 6’8” guy (Garrett Sipe). I had to get on him, board hard just to win that game because he’s a heck of a player. He’ll score on you all day.”
Cofer’s last bucket late in the fourth quarter ended an 8-2 run by a Vinemont squad that wasn’t content with going down without a fight.
“We knew at halftime that we’ve fought back from 20-point deficits before, and Vinemont could do the same thing,” Sloan said. “We just tried to play tough, hold the lead and we ended up holding out.”
Like Cofer, Sloan didn’t wait long to make his presence known, nailing a pair of free throws and a fadeaway one-hander in the first quarter. He added two deep shots in the next eight-minute stretch to boost his point total to nine by halftime.
Sloan came out just as hot in the second half, adding one more trey and two more 2-point shots before all was said and done.
“I always feel when I come off the bench, I’ve got something to prove,” he said. “I try to help my team any way I can. I was feeling it tonight and made some shots.”
Andrew Cofer, generally Good Hope’s most productive player on offense, was limited to 14 points by the Eagles’ stingy defense.
Alex Cofer, Sloan and Andrew Cofer were all good for two 3-pointers apiece, while Tyler Stringer was responsible for one, a momentum-saving buzzer-beater to end the second quarter.
Eli Marty tallied four points for the Raiders, Stringer had the three and Jonathon Grigsby scored two.
Good Hope’s grand prize for beating Vinemont is a quarterfinal matchup with No. 3 Fairview tonight at 7:30. The Aggies are likely to be a bit tougher to beat than the Eagles, but Alex Cofer doesn’t believe an upset is out of the question.
“I think we can do it,” he said. “If we use our head, have no turnovers, try hard and play physical, anything can happen.”
Sipe and Duncan Hopper’s 12-point performances were tops for Vinemont. Hopper’s 3-pointer shortly before the final buzzer was his second of the night.
Other Eagle contributors were Lance Stanley, eight points; Logan Wallace, six; and Jacob Smith, Blake Jones and Zack Drake, four each.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at email@example.com.