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SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2007
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Hartselle guns down West Point

By Paul Stackhouse
sports@decaturdaily.com

HARTSELLE — No matter what, a win is a win.

That's how Hartselle High boys basketball coach Johnny Berry summed up his feelings after the Tigers rolled to a 53-37 Class 5A, Area 13 tournament victory over West Point.

In an earlier game at the J.C. Pettey Center on Friday night, Cullman defeated Brewer 52-42. Hartselle will play Cullman on Monday night at 7:30 in the tournament championship.

Hartselle led West Point 12-7 at the end of the first quarter.

After a free throw by McKinnely Jones of West Point early in the second quarter, the Hartselle defense kept the Warriors scoreless until Nick Graham made two free throws with 48 seconds remaining before halftime to cut the Tigers' lead to 21-10.

With 20 seconds showing on the clock, Hartselle's Rodney Stansberry made a layup before Graham hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, leaving the Warriors trailing 23-13 at intermission.

The Tigers led 36-23 going into the final quarter and cruised into the championship from there.

"I feel we were real tight tonight because of what's at stake," said Hartselle coach Johnny Berry. "We tried to be too perfect and that didn't help much. All of us didn't want the season to end. We didn't look good offensively at all but we didn't panic because our defense was outstanding. We'll practice Sunday but there will be no changes in what we normally do. No matter what happened in the game, it's a win."

The Tigers made 22 of 41 free throws.

Alex Brown led Hartselle (19-12) with 11 points, while Tyler Young finished with 10.

"We just didn't show up to play tonight," Young said. "It was not even close as far as how good we can play. We'll work on shooting and making free throws before playing Cullman. We will be prepared."

The two teams split during the regular season which each claiming a victory on their home court.

Graham led West Point (9-19) with 10 points.

Cullman 52, Brewer 42: Tears running down the faces of several Brewer players told the story. The Patriots close out their season with an 11-16 record.

The loss was especially tough for Brewer coach Sam Brown. His son Alex is a senior and the basketball season ended sooner than they wanted.

"You only get to coach your son once," Brown said. "This group of seniors are very special to me. I hate it for them. "I thought we played a good game, but on offense we just couldn't hit our shots. I felt we did a good job on defense and rebounding.

"We handled the ball well and we didn't have a lot of turnovers. We just couldn't hit our shots."

Rusty Boyd led Brewer in scoring with 15 points. Brown scored 10 points.

Ben Ward led Cullman (16-15) in scoring with 15 points with Dylan Smith and Gavin Ellis finishing with 10 points each.

The score was tied at 13 going into the second quarter when the Bearcats managed to take a 24-23 lead into the locker room at halftime.

The third quarter was somewhat slow offensively for both teams. Cullman made a 7-2 run to lead 31-25 heading into the final period.

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