By Rob Ketcham
The Cullman Times
Good Hope was looking for its second upset in as many nights. Fairview wanted to make quick work of the Raiders.
Neither team ultimately got what it wanted on Tuesday night, but the Aggies did get the win, and that’s all that matters at the Cullman County Basketball Tournament.
Four Fairview starters finished in double digits for the second straight game, and the Aggies held off a late comeback bid by Good Hope to preserve a 56-41 quarterfinal victory.
The Purple and Gold (17-6) led by as many as 23 in the third quarter before Zack Sloan’s fifth and final 3-pointer of the night pulled the Raiders within 10 midway through the fourth. That was as close as they’d get, however, as Luke Bailey and Andy Hendrix went to work for Fairview and closed the door on Good Hope.
“We actually knew it was going to be tough because they had a chip on their shoulder, and we knew we had something to prove,” said Bailey, who scored a team-high 15 points. “We knew it was going to be a tight game, and we knew we had to keep fighting throughout the entire game.”
All five Aggie starters chipped in at least three points in the opening quarter and continued with that balanced effort the rest of the night, accounting for all 56 of the squad’s points. Besides Bailey’s 15 points, Peter Kessler (14), Elijah Garrison (10) and Hendrix (10) also reached double figures. Kessler was impressive from behind the arc with three treys, while Bailey and Hendrix both knocked down one.
“We just try to score,” Bailey said. “We don’t care who it is doing it.”
Fairview’s Blake Parker required just three quarters to accumulate his seven points.
Raider sharpshooter Andrew Cofer was on the court for most of Tuesday’s contest, but a nagging leg injury kept him from being as effective as he usually is. That left Good Hope to rely on Sloan and Alex Cofer for a second consecutive night, and both players were up for the task.
Sloan came off the bench and hit at least one 3-pointer in all four quarters, pulling off the feat twice in the third. His 15 points followed up a 16-point performance in Monday’s play-in game against Vinemont.
Just as the center did versus the Eagles, Cofer sank a trey for his first basket against the Aggies. He went on to score seven points, 12 less than he compiled only one day prior.
Eli Marty came up with six points when he wasn’t busy running Good Hope’s offense at point guard, and big-man Jonathon Grigsby nailed a 3-pointer to improve his total to five points. Andrew Cofer and Mason Johnson both concluded with four points.
Third-seeded Fairview will have three days to prepare for a semifinal matchup versus No. 2 Hanceville. Tip-off will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.
The Aggies barely held on for a 52-49 win when the rivals met on the very same floor a little less than two weeks ago.
“It’s going to be tough. We beat them by three here, but that was last game — it doesn’t matter,” Bailey said. “If we play like we did in the first half against them, I think we’ll beat them.”
The key to staying hot is simple for Bailey — don’t stray from playing Fairview’s brand of basketball.
“If we play our game, I think we’ll have a good chance to get to the finals and make a run,” he said.
% Rob Ketcham can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 257 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.