By ZACH BIRDSONG
The fourth time wound up being the charm for Ben Fulton, who put the Wildcats in front for good late in the fourth quarter at home on Friday, allowing Tullahoma to pick up the 35-31 homecoming victory over Coffee County.
Fulton had previously given Tullahoma the lead three other times in a game that featured 16 lead changes as well as six ties. Two of those opportunities for Fulton came late in the fourth quarter.
With 29 seconds remaining on the clock, Fulton knocked down a layup, putting Tullahoma in front 30-29. However, at the other end of the floor, De’Aaron Rozier put Coffee County right back in front with basket of his own, giving the Red Raiders a 31-30 edge.
Fulton was fouled on Tullahoma’s next possession, calmly knocking down a pair of free throws, putting the Wildcats back in front 32-31 with 13.9 seconds left on the clock.
Tullahoma forced back-to-back turnovers, as Nic Barstad ripped the ball away from Coffee County on the ensuing inbounds attempt for the Red Raiders. Barstad made a free throw, upping his team’s advantage to 33-31.
Fulton then followed with a steal of his own and sealed the game with a pair of free throws, putting the Wildcats in front 35-31 with 2.1 seconds remaining in the contest.
After putting up 17 points on the night, Fulton led both teams in scoring. Barstad added nine points of his own for Tullahoma. Quintin Howard, Jake Hollandsworth, Race Marin and Bryce Coffey each scored two points, while Corvion Fields added a free throw.
Offense was hard to come by on Friday as Tullahoma trailed 23-22 entering the fourth quarter. Barstad first put the Wildcats in front, before Fulton added a pair of free throws, making the score 26-23 with 3:49 left in the final period.
Grey Riddle and Rozier followed with back-to-back baskets for Coffee County, giving their team a 27-26 advantage with 1:59 left on the clock. Barstad gave Tullahoma the lead right back with a pair of free throws as Tullahoma led 28-27 with 1:36 remaining in the period.
After Riddle gave Coffee County a brief 31-30 advantage, Fulton followed with his layup, putting Tullahoma up 30-29. Rozier countered with his shot, before Fulton put the Wildcats up for good with his free throws.
Coffee County struggled from the free-throw line on the night, as the Red Raiders hit just three of their 15 opportunities.
Friday’s win for the Wildcats (14-11, 4-5) ended a two-game losing skid, as Tullahoma was coming off of a 73-64 loss at Lawrence County on Tuesday.
Barstad led Tullahoma in scoring on Tuesday, putting up 21 points. Marin also added double figures, finishing with 18 points.
Howard added seven points, while Hollandsworth scored six points and Fulton put up five points. Matthew Ross and Fields each scored two points.
Coffee County defeats Tullahoma 53-44
Tullahoma fell behind 9-0 and was never able to overcome that deficit — despite cutting it to a four-point contest twice — losing to Coffee County 53-44 at home on Friday.
After Tullahoma made the score 9-5 after one quarter, Coffee County answered with six-straight points to start the second period. The Lady Wildcats narrowed the gap to 15-11 midway through the second quarter.
That was the closest that Tullahoma got, as Coffee County grabbed a 23-16 lead at halftime. The Lady Raiders took their biggest lead of the game, 33-21, late in the third quarter.
Despite trying to chip away at the visitors’ lead, Tullahoma wasn’t able to get any closer than five points. Julia Duncan knocked down a 3-pointer for the Lady Wildcats, making the score 47-42 with 40 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Coffee County followed with a 6-2 run to close out the game, securing the victory.
Duncan led Tullahoma in scoring on the night, putting up 26 points. Macey Bowman added eight points, while CeCe Smith scored seven points and Makenna Snipes knocked down a 3-pointer.
Tullahoma (12-13, 3-6) was coming off of a 70-54 to Lawrence County on Tuesday night.
Duncan again led Tullahoma in scoring, putting up 13 points on the night. Jessica Edde and Bowman also added double figures, totaling 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Both Tullahoma teams will get set to play Columbia on back-to-back nights. THS will host Columbia on Monday and then head then travel on Tuesday. Start time of the girls game on both days is scheduled for 6 p.m. with the boys taking the floor at approximately 7:30 p.m.