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franklin county times

Belgreen rally falls short against Sulligent

By Staff
Mike Self FCT Sports Editor
FAYETTE - With one quarter in the books, Monday's game between Sulligent and Belgreen looked like a certain blowout.
The Bulldogs had other ideas.
Belgreen used hot second-half shooting to wipe out an early 18-point deficit before finally succumbing to the Blue Devils 69-64 in the first round of the Fayette Lions Club Tournament at Bevill State Community College.
Belgreen (4-7) trailed 29-11 after a basket by Sulligent's Nick Cotton to open the second quarter. The Bulldogs trimmed the lead to 11 by halftime and to seven midway through the third quarter before Sulligent pushed it back out to 13 heading to the fourth.
Belgreen stormed back again in the fourth quarter, cutting the deficit to two points on two occasions in the final minutes before the Blue Devils put the game away with a late steal and three late free throws.
"Our guys didn't just lay down and die," Belgreen coach Steve Pounders said of his team's comeback. "We played better defensively over the last three quarters than we did in the first quarter. I think we gave up 27 points in the first quarter. Any time you give up 27 points in one quarter, you're not doing a very good job on defense.
"Give credit to Sulligent. They're a very good basketball team, and they made some big shots tonight when they needed them."
The Blue Devils made seemingly every shot they attempted in the first quarter, inside and out. Cotton and fellow post player Cruz Bonman each had two baskets in an 11-0 run that helped Sulligent claim a 27-11 lead after one quarter.
Cotton had 12 points in the first half, and Bonman added eight.
"Those two guys inside just killed us in the first half," Pounders said.
The Bulldogs began to chip away at the lead in the second quarter, however, cutting it to eight on a layup by Josh Smith with 10 seconds left before halftime.
Zac Evans drained a long three-pointer at the buzzer to send the Blue Devils into the lockerroom with a 36-25 lead.
Belgreen regained the momentum in the third quarter, trimming the lead to 42-35 on a three-pointer by Andrew Cansler with 3:30 remaining.
Sulligent responded with a 14-5 run before a three-pointer by Nathan Hamilton left the Bulldogs trailing 56-43 after three quarters.
Cansler, Hamilton and Cody Rikard led Belgreen's second-half charge, hitting two three-pointers apiece and combining to score 26 points.
"The shots started falling for us in the second half," Pounders said.
Hamilton had five points and Avis Smith added four in a 12-4 run by Belgreen to open the fourth quarter. Rikard capped the spurt with a trey to make it 60-55 with 5:00 remaining.
The lead shrunk to four on a putback by Smith, and a steal and layup by Kelsey Motes cut Sulligent's lead to 64-62 with 1:45 remaining.
Myers Dean made two free throws to push the lead back to four, but Motes hit a pair from the line with 56 seconds left to make it 66-64.
After Evans missed the front end of a one-and-one, Belgreen rebounded and called timeout.
The Bulldogs had a chance to tie or take the lead, but Cansler's inbounds pass to Hamilton underneath was stolen by Sulligent.
Dean sank two free throws to make it 68-64, and Evans added another free throw to provide the final margin.
"We had a chance to tie there at the end, but we turned it over on the inbounds play," Pounders said. "Then they go down and hit two free throws to make it a four-point game. The little things like that were the difference in the game."
Hamilton finished with 13 points to lead Belgreen, including 10 in the second half. Rikard added 12 points before fouling out with just less than two minutes remaining, and Cansler scored all 10 of his points in the second half.
Motes, Josh Smith and Avis Smith each added eight points, and Will Richardson had five.
Cotton scored a game-high 20 points before fouling out with 3:26 to play. Bonman added 14 points, and Dean had 12.
Both teams shot well from the perimeter. Belgreen made seven three-pointers, and Sulligent made six.
The Bulldogs return to action today at 1:30 p.m. in the consolation bracket. They will face either Lamar County or Hackleburg.
In other local action on Monday:
Girls
Red Bay 55 Rogers 50
Lauren Tucker had 13 points to lead four players in double figures as the Lady Tigers earned a first-round win at the Northwest Alabama Christmas Tournament in Rogersville.
Kendra Sparks added 12 points for Red Bay (7-3). Alyssa Horton finished with 11 points, and Mandy Lowery had 10.
Caitlin Rhoden led Rogers (9-4) with 22 points.
Red Bay jumped out to a 15-6 lead after one quarter.

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