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Ryan Dunn dribbles by a Vestavia Hills defender in the Tigers' 80-78 loss to the Rebels. Special to the Enquirer/Jim Meadows

Hartselle rally comes up short in loss to Vestavia Hills

The Hartselle Tigers fell to 0-2 to start the season after an 80-78 loss to 7A Vestavia Hills last Friday.

The Rebels jumped out to an early 5-0 lead but Luke Ward hit two threes to help the Tigers take an 8-7 lead. Vestavia hit three threes to close out the first quarter with a 21-17 lead.

Hartselle continues to hit the deep ball with three in a row to open their scoring in the second quarter. The Rebels hit three of their own in the quarter that helped extend their lead to 40-30 at halftime.

Vestavia Hills used an early third-quarter spurt to take a 15 point lead. The Tigers outscored the Rebels by four the rest of the quarter to cut the lead to 11, 61-50, heading to the fourth quarter. Ryan Dunn scored eight points to lead the Tigers in the third.

Hartselle battled back in the fourth as they cut the Rebels lead to just two points on three different occasions late in the game but was unable to grab the lead. Ward had 11 and Dunn had six for the Tigers in the quarter.

“This team is learning to play without Brody Peebles,” said Hartselle coach Faron Key. “We grew up some tonight in battling with a really good 7A basketball team. There were a couple of times where it looked like Vestavia was going to run us out of the gym but our boys fought back. I am really proud of their effort and fight.”

Ward led Hartselle with 25 points on seven three-pointers. Dunn finished with 18 points, 14 coming in the second half. Kiah Key had his second double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds. He also led the team with five assists and three steals.

Reese Garner led Vestavia with a game-high 33 points, including 12 in the final quarter.

The Tigers will travel to Bob Jones on Monday to play in the N2 Hoops Invitational. Their first-round opponent is Stewarts Creek (1-1) from Tennessee.