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Tigers succumb to Cullman’s fourth-quarter rally in 57-49 loss

The Hartselle Tigers led for three quarters but succumbed to Cullman pressure in the fourth quarter, falling 57-49 to the Bearcats.

“The game was good competition for both teams,” Hartselle coach Faron Key said. “Unfortunately, we lost our composure when they went up 44-43, which cost us the game. We’ll learn from it and be better next game.”

After Cullman scored the game’s opening basket, Hartselle responded with an 8-1 run to take an early 8-3 lead. Kohl Key hit four free throws in the run. After a Cullman three-pointer, the Tigers responded with a 7-0 run to take a 15-6 lead. Kiah Key closed out the first quarter with two three-pointers to give Hartselle a 21-9 lead.

The Bearcats opened the second quarter with an 11-3 run to cut the Tigers’ lead to 24-20 midway through the quarter. Hartselle responded with a 7-3 run to extend their lead to 31-23. Cullman hit a three-pointer before the end of the second to cut the Tigers’ halftime lead to 31-26.

Cullman opened the third quarter on a 4-0 run to cut the Hartselle lead to 31-30. The teams battled back and forth over the next four minutes, with the Tigers holding a slim 38-36 lead. Hartselle went on a 5-0 run to extend their lead to 43-36 before the Bearcats added a basket to make the score 43-38 heading into the final quarter.

The Bearcats opened the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run, giving them their first lead since leading 2-0 less than two minutes into the game. The Tigers cut the lead to 49-47 with a 4-0 run, but Cullman responded with an 8-2 run to close the game.

Kiah Key finished with 15 points, four rebounds and two assists to lead Hartselle (10-9, 0-1). Ryan Dunn added 13 points, seven rebounds and two steals, while Kohl Key and Thomas Itsede added eight points each. Rylan Smothers pulled down 10 rebounds.

Jake Dorough finished with 15 points to lead Cullman (17-3, 1-0). Garrison Sharpe added 10, while Kase Nixon had eight.