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Ryan Dun dribbles past a Hazel Green defender in the second quarter of the Tigers' 52-42 win over the Trojans. Photo by Jim Meadows.

Tigers get third win in a row with a win over Hazel Green

The Hartselle Tigers are heating up after starting the season 0-3. They have won three in a row after defeating Hazel Green 52-42 on Monday.

The win gave the Tigers back-to-back wins over the Trojans following last year’s 63-56 win on the road at Hazel Green.

The first quarter was a defensive slugfest with the two teams holding one another in single-digit scoring. The Tigers opened the contest with a 6-0 run fueled by a Ryan Dunn three-pointer and a rebound and layup by Rylan Smothers. The Trojans closed the quarter on a 6-2 run. A Dunn layup gave Hartselle the lead heading to the second quarter.

After Hazel Green tied the game early in the second quarter, Luke Ward nailed two three-pointers to give the Tigers a 14-8 lead. The Trojans put together an 8-2 run to tie the game at 16-16. Ty Odom and Kohl Key hit jumpers to give Hartselle a 20-18 lead at halftime.

Dunn hit two layups to start the third quarter to keep the Tigers in the lead, 24-22. Foul trouble was the story of the rest of the third quarter as Dunn and Kiah Key had to go to the bench after picking up their third fouls on back-to-back Hazel Green possessions. Hartselle countered with their bigs along with Kohl Key and Thomas Itsede for the rest of the quarter and began to pull away. Kohl Key knocked down two three-points and added two free throws to give the Tigers a 34-28 lead late in the third. Odom and Itsede hit buckets to close the quarter with Hartselle leading 38-31.

Ward’s third three-pointer of the game came between two Hazel Green three-pointers that made the score 41-37 early in the fourth quarter. Treyce Oden and Dunn hit layups to help the Tigers play even with the Trojans over the next couple of minutes and maintain their four-point lead, 46-42. Itsede and Dunn combined to hit six free throws in the final minutes to give the Tigers the ten-point victory.

Dunn finished with 13 points to lead Hartselle. He also had three rebounds, three assists (all on three-pointers), and two steals. Ward and Kohl Key each added nine points. Itsede had eight points and six rebounds. Kiah Key had ten rebounds for the Tigers.

“I am proud of how our guys performed tonight,” said Hartselle coach Faron Key. “We have experienced some adversity to start the season and we are starting to see some growth due to the adversity.”

The win was the third in a row for the Tigers while scoring less than 53 points. Key said, “you probably have to go back to my days at Arab to see three consecutive wins with no more than 53 points.

Ward has had this game circled on his calendar since the Tigers’ schedule was released. At the preseason show, he was asked what game he was looking forward to the most. To the surprise of most in the crowd, he said Hazel Green. When asked about his statement, he said “I have been waiting for this rematch since last season and it feels good to come away with a win.”

Hartselle (3-3) will travel to Mountain Brook for a matchup with the defending 6A state champions. The two teams met last season at Plainview with the Tigers coming away with a 74-70 win.

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