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Hartselle Enquirer

Tigers Complete Huge Comeback

Hartselle sophomore Gunnar Wiggins goes up for a shot. | Caleb Suggs
Hartselle sophomore Gunnar Wiggins goes up for a shot. | Caleb Suggs

Hartselle comes from behind to defeat Columbia in huge area game

Caleb Suggs

Hartselle Enquirer

It’s been a rough new year for the Hartselle Tigers basketball program. Since losing by three to Homewood in the metro Christmas tournament, and dealing with the loss of star player Trace Hill, the Tigers haven’t been quite the same. Hartselle has dropped two area in games in a row to Austin and Decatur and were in serious danger of falling into the fourth seed in the area tournament if they lost their final one to the visiting Columbia Eagles.

Hartselle started the game off with a bang as Isaac Taylor took a pass off the opening tipoff and laid it in to give Hartselle a 3-0 lead. Columbia took the lead at 4-3 and then later pushed it to 11-6 behind a three-pointer form Miguel Williams. Seth Garner later cut the lead to 13-10 with a huge dunk, but Williams poured in four more points to give the Eagles a 17-10 advantage at the end of the first.

In the second quarter offense would be hard to come by. Hartselle’s first full basket wouldn’t come until three minutes left in the quarter as Taylor dropped in another three pointer to cut the lead to 22-14. Keondre Swoopes helped trim the lead to 24-16 but the Eagles pushed it back to 26-16 and then to 30-18 at the end of the first half.

Hartselle started the third quarter more explosive on offense as Garner and Eric Stephenson combined for nine points to cut the lead to 35-27. Columbia extended it to 39-27 behind an alley-oop dunk by Omar Bartholomew. However, Kyle Eddy, who didn’t have a single basket in the first half, poured in four three point shots to tie the game at 43. A few possessions later and Taylor gave Hartselle their first lead since the opening minute at 46-45. Taylor then added another three point shot at the buzzer to put the Tigers up 49-45 going into the final quarter.

Columbia tried to retake the lead as they cut it to 49-48, but a three-point play from Eric Stephenson all but sealed the deal. Hartselle dominated from there and went on to win 60-52. Seth Garner led the Tigers in this game with 16 points while Isaac Taylor and Kyle Eddy both had 14. Eric Stephenson finished with 13. Miguel Williams led Columbia with 16 points.

Hartselle erased a 12 point halftime deficit and scored more than double in the second half what they did in the first, much to the delight of their head coach. “We talked at halftime that we have to do it together because we’re not good enough to it alone.” Hartselle head coach Faron Key said. “It might not make a difference in the end regarding the area tournament seeding but all I know is that we have had a really hard month and we are going to enjoy the heck out of this one.”

With the win, along with Decatur’s loss to Austin, Hartselle is currently tied for second in area play. However, Decatur still has one area game to play and Columbia has three while the Tigers are finished until the area tournament. A win for Decatur will tie them with Hartselle and two wins by Columbia will put them at second over Hartselle and Decatur. The Austin Black Bears are currently undefeated in area play with sweeps over both Decatur and Hartselle but have yet to play Columbia.

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