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Hartselle Enquirer

Hartselle wins two in Florida Classic Shootout

The Hartselle Tigers took a four-day trip to Daytona Beach to participate in the Florida Classic Shootout hosted by Mainland High School. The Tigers were the only team from out of state in the three-day event.

Mainland 56, Hartselle 34

On day one of the Shootout, the Tigers had a matchup with the host Buccaneers.

Hartselle played a shaky first half, scoring 10 points in the first two quarters. Mainland hit two threes and scored the first 10 points before a Luke Ward free throw got the Tigers on the board.

The Bucs reeled off another five in a row before Thomas Itsede and Kiah Key hit back-to-back buckets to cut the lead to 15-5. After another Mainland 4-0 run, the lead was 19-5 heading to the second quarter.

The defenses dominated the second quarter, as both teams combined for 12 points. Mainland outscored Hartselle 7-5 to take a 26-10 lead into halftime. Ryan Dunn and Dominic Simmons scored two points each for the Tigers in the quarter.

Hartselle struggled to get any momentum going in the third quarter. The Tigers were held to five points.

The Bucs outscored the Tigers 11-5 to take a 37-15 lead into the final quarter.

The Tigers built some momentum for the rest of the Shootout with a 19-point fourth quarter. Kohl Key hit two three-pointers to lead the scoring surge, and Ward netted four points to help the Tigers finish the game positively. Mainland scored 19 points to make the final score 56-34.

Kohl Key finished with seven points, four rebounds and two steals to lead Hartselle (6-8). Kiah Key and Simmons each added six points. Ward and Itsede had five points apiece.

Itsede led the team in rebounding with seven.

Hartselle 58, Pensacola 53

It was a battle of Tigers on day two of the Florida Classic Shootout, as Hartselle met Pensacola. While Hartselle was 0-1, Pensacola entered the contest with a victory.

Pensacola jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, getting points from three players.

Kiah Key got Hartselle on the board when he drained a three-pointer to cut the lead to 7-3. Pensacola answered with an 8-0 run to push their lead to 15-3.

Ward cut the lead to 10 with a layup, but Pensacola responded with a 5-0 burst to go up by 15 late in the first quarter.

Simmons pulled down a rebound and put it in the basket to make the score 20-7 heading into the second quarter.

Hartselle opened the second quarter on a 10-2 run, with Simmons scoring seven and Ward hitting a three to cut the Pensacola lead to 22-17. After a Pensacola three, Ryan Dunn and Kohl Key gave Hartselle another 9-2 run to make the score 27-26 late in the first half.

Hartselle scored four points in the final minute to tie the game at 30-30, and Pensacola hit a free throw to take a 31-30 lead into halftime.

Simmons and Dunn powered a 7-2 start to the third quarter for Hartselle. The run propelled the Tigers to their first lead of the game, 37-33.

Over the next few minutes, Hartselle increased that lead to five, 44-39. Pensacola closed out the quarter on a 5-0 run to tie the game at 44-44 going into the final quarter.

The teams went back and forth for much of the fourth quarter. Kiah Key, Simmons and Ward each scored baskets to help give Hartselle a 52-51 lead with about a minute to go.

Pensacola got a steal and a layup with 55 seconds remaining to grab a 53-52 lead; however, Kiah Key took over for Hartselle and scored the game’s final six points to give the Tigers a 58-53 win.

Kiah Key finished with 13 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. He also had seven rebounds, six assists and two steals. Simmons and Dunn also had 13 points for the Tigers. Simmons added seven rebounds, two assists and three steals, while Dunn added two rebounds, one assist and two steals.

Ward had 11 points and 12 rebounds for his first career double-double.

Itsede added seven points, and Kohl Key had six.

Celeb Young finished with a game-high 27 points for Pensacola.

Hartselle 65, Naples 53

The Tigers had an early tip with the Naples Eagles on the final day of the Shootout.

Kiah Key continued his hot streak, which started with 10 points in the final quarter against Pensacola, with eight of Hartselle’s first 10 points against Naples. He helped the Tigers take an early 10-2 lead. He hit his third three-pointer to help Hartselle take a 16-8 lead into the second quarter.

Ward added five points, including the Tigers’ fourth three-pointer of the first quarter.

The Tigers held a 21-13 lead when Naples went on a 5-0 run to cut the lead to 21-18. However, the Tigers dominated the final couple of minutes of the quarter with a 9-0 run that gave them their largest lead of the half, 30-18, heading into halftime.

Naples opened the third quarter with a 7-2 run to cut the lead to 32-25, but Dunn and Kiah Key combined for 10 points in the third quarter to help the Tigers maintain their lead.

After the Eagles cut the lead to 41-35, Hartselle answered with a 5-2 burst to close the quarter with a 46-37 lead heading to the fourth quarter.

Naples made a couple of little runs in the final quarter to cut the Tigers’ lead to 57-53 with a little less than two minutes to go, but Hartselle responded with a dominant finish to the game, closing on an 8-0 run to clinch the 65-53 win.

Kiah Key finished with a game-high 20 points to lead the Tigers. He also added four assists, two rebounds, two steals and a block. Dunn added 13 points, including 10 in the second half, along with three assists and three steals. Ward had 12 points, five steals and three assists. Itsede scored eight points and had four steals, while Simmons had seven points and seven rebounds with two blocks. Treyce Oden added four points and four rebounds. Kohl Key finished with one point.

“I am proud of how my team played this week,” said Coach Faron Key. “They bounced back after the first game and getting down early in the second to come back and pick up two wins. They learned a lot about who they are as a team, and I am excited to see what happens after Christmas as we jump into area play.”

Hartselle (8-8) has won four of the past six games heading into the Metro Tournament at Homewood High School. The Tigers will open with Chelsea Wednesday at 4:30 p.m.

Following the Metro Tournament, the Tigers jump into area play with games at Decatur and home against Cullman the first week of January.

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