Golden Tigers survive late scare from Florence to capture Times Daily Classic title
FLORENCE – The Russellville varsity boys basketball team was back in familiar territory Friday as it won the Times Daily Classic championship for the second straight year, but this time they had a fight on their hands.
The Golden Tigers led by as many as 23 points in the second half, but a rally by the Falcons cut the advantage to five points with four minutes remaining in the game.
"Florence did all that it could," Russellville coach Michael Smith said. "They picked up the intensity to get back into the game."
Russellville was able to pull away late for an 85-68 victory thanks to some clutch free throws by Jermaine Bates, Terence Smith and Micah McCulloch.
Bates added a dunk with 33 seconds remaining for good measure.
Russellville built a 28-15 lead by the end of the first quarter and pushed its advantage to 42-21 at halftime.
During the second half, the Falcons went on a 19-0 to pull within 64-59, setting up the last minute excitement.
Terence Smith led the Golden Tigers with 25 points while Bates had 19 and Will Bostick scored 13.
Also scoring for Russellville was Nate Dunstan (9), McCulloch (8), Mark Davis (6), Nathan McAlister (3) and Chase Johnson (2).
It was the second game in a row Russellville faced a scare. In the semifinals, Russellville trailed Deshler by 15 points before rallying for the victory.
"(Thursday) night we never lost our composure," coach Smith said. "Tonight we didn't lose our composure when (Florence) cut the lead to five. Later in the year this should help when you expect games to be tight."
McCulloch and Bostick also won some individual hardware Friday.
McCulloch won the dunk contest by beating out three Florence players. It is the second year in a row McCulloch has taken home the dunk title.
"It feels good," McCulloch said. "The team winning the (tournament) feels better. It is good to win something with my teammates."
Bostick claimed the 3-point shootout title by sinking 14 treys in the opening round before draining 17 3-pointers in the finals.
In addition to sweeping the tournament title, dunk contest and 3-point contest for the second straight year, Russellville also had four players earn All-Tournament honors.
Bates, Bostick, Dunstan and Smith were the players to receive All-Tournament nods and Smith was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
"It's good (they won the awards). Hopefully it will build some confidence," coach Smith said. "Something the team last year didn't lack was confidence."
Russellville will host Hartselle Monday for an area game. The B-team boys will begin at 4:30 followed by the varsity girls and the varsity boys.