Cullman's defense had all the answers to Mortimer Jordan's questions.

Or something like that.

The Bearcats suffocated the Blue Devils during a dominant first half en route to a 61-43 home victory on Thursday night.

The Black and Gold, who improved to 2-2 on the season, held the road team to only 14 points during the first two quarters and rode a tremendous performance from Zane Manley (20 points) to the double-digit triumph.

Dylan Finch (10 points), Jake McAfee (six) and Jimnie Chau Le (six) were next in line offensively for Cullman, while Jayden Sullins, Nick Williams, Noah Bussman, Trey Tucker, Drew Morton, Will Kress and Blake Tetro each tallied at least one point for coach Bobby Meyer's squad, which led 33-14 at halftime.

"We tried to increase the defensive pressure, and it finally wore them down in the second quarter," he said. "After we built the lead, though, we lost our intensity a bit. Maybe we were tired. We were standing up, and we weren't switching screens. The score basically evened out during that second half. We've talked about maintaining intensity and showing consistency on both ends of the floor. We've lost a couple of draining games. Four games next week, though. A big opportunity for us."

Cullman travels to Athens next Monday before competing in the 61st annual Holly Pond Thanksgiving Tournament later in the week against the Broncos, Good Hope and J.B. Pennington.

"We just have to continue working," Meyer added. "Baby steps each practice. Baby steps each game. We want to be a solid team when we reach area play. We want to get off to a good start there. We like our team. Our chemistry has been good. I'd say once we get going, and everybody fills out a role, we've got some potential here. We can make things happen."

Varsity Girls

% Cullman 70, Mortimer Jordan 51: The Lady Bearcats improved to 3-1 on the season following Thursday night's victory.

Hannah Hoffman (15 points), Anna Grace Murphy (14), Anna Katherine Eastman (12), Anna Bowden (11) and Anna Evans (10) collected double digits for Cullman, which also nabbed scoring contributions from Olivia Neal (four), Alexandria Barker (two) and Alex Stansell (two) in the home triumph.

The Black and Gold led by 14 points at halftime — coach Josh Hembree's squad forced a bevy of turnovers — and used a 24-point third quarter to put the contest out of reach heading into the final frame.

"We moved the ball exceptionally well against their zone," Hembree said. "And we had some girls knock down shots. But I think our defensive pressure being consistent throughout the game was the difference. Even with the lead we had, we just didn't feel comfortable because of their ability to shoot the ball and their length. We did enough, though.

"We had good effort. We saw some girls come out tonight and step up and do the things we have been waiting on them to do. That always gives you a lot of pride to see that."

Cullman will return to action Saturday at the Lady Tiger Thanksgiving Classic at Hartselle. The Lady Bearcats begin the tournament against Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa. Good Hope and Hanceville are also set to participate in the event.

"I'm proud of where we're at," Hembree said. "We've got to play a terrific squad Saturday. No doubt about it. But that's all we want to see. For us, we've just got to keep doing what we're doing now. We've got to learn something about ourselves every night and get better every chance we can."

% Jake Winfrey can be reached at 256-734-2131, ext. 136 or at jwinfrey@cullmantimes.com.​

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I'm an Auburn University graduate with a passion for sports, reading and diet Mountain Dew.