Just before the buzzer at the end of the first half, Ben Fulton knocked down a basket, giving Tullahoma a 15-point halftime lead. That changed in the second half, as the Wildcats staved off a late comeback attempt by Franklin County at home Wednesday, holding on for a 71-65 victory.
With 2:47 remaining in the contest, Franklin County had cut its deficit down to 61-56. Tullahoma answered back quickly, scoring six-straight points, to up its lead to 67-56 with just under two minutes left in the ballgame. Ryan Scott scored four points during that run, while Joe Duncan added a pair of free throws to pad the Wildcats’ lead with 1:56 left in the contest.
Fulton went on to add a pair of free throws later in the fourth quarter. Krys Uselton added two free throws of his own, allowing Tullahoma to hold on for the victory.
Early in the first quarter Wednesday, the Rebels grabbed a brief 7-6 lead midway through the opening period. Tullahoma dominated the remainder of the first half, including, outscoring Franklin County 12-4 the rest of the opening quarter.
Fulton first hit a pair of free throws, which gave Tullahoma the lead for good, putting his team up 8-7 with 4:06 remaining in the first period. Jake Hollandsworth put up five points in the final minutes of the opening quarter. Scott added four points and Will Partin added a basket, giving the Wildcats a 19-11 lead heading into the second period of play.
In the final four minutes of the second quarter, Tullahoma was able to expand that lead into double figures. Fulton was again the catalyst, knocking down a pair of free throws, putting the Wildcats in front, 32-22.
The Wildcats went on to close out the first half on an 8-3 run. Fulton’s buzzer-beater ended the second quarter as Tullahoma took a 40-25 lead into the break.
In the third quarter, Franklin County attempted to chip away at its deficit, scoring eight of the first 10 points in the period. Devean Shockley hit a basket with 6:28 left in the third quarter, cutting the Wildcats’ lead down to 42-33.
On the other end, Hollandsworth buried a 3-pointer for Tullahoma. Fulton added a basket of his own shortly thereafter, putting Tullahoma in front 47-35.
Once again, the Rebels attempted a comeback, and trailed 47-41 with 2:07 remaining in the third quarter. Fulton knocked down a 3-pointer, before adding another basket, immediately giving his team a 52-41 edge with 1:27 left in the period. Tullahoma would take a 52-46 advantage into the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter, as Duncan hit a pair of free throws to start the period. Fulton, Duncan and Hollandsworth each hit a basket, giving Tullahoma a 60-46 lead with 5:35 remaining in the contest, a deficit that Franklin County could never overcome.
The win ended a three-game losing streak for the Wildcats, as they improved to 3-4 on the regular season. Heading into Wednesday’s matchup, Tullahoma had dropped a pair of games against Warren County, while also dropping a decision to Lebanon.
“After playing Lebanon and Warren County, we were definitely ready to start district play,” said THS Head Coach Jason Welch. “Franklin County has a really nice team. We played really well. We made so many plays to win the game, then late, we almost made enough mistakes to give it back away. There’s definitely a lot to work on. To win a district game though is always great. I’m super proud of the guys, they played really well tonight.”
Fulton led the Wildcats in scoring, netting 19 points. He also added eight rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot.
Hollandsworth and Duncan each added double figures. Hollandsworth finished with 15 points and six rebounds, while Duncan put up 14 points.
Scott finished his night with eight points, while Johnson and Partin each had six points. Uselton rounded out his night with three points.
Tullahoma (3-4, 1-0) was scheduled to head to Lincoln County on Friday night, before traveling to Moore County on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for roughly 7:30 p.m. on Friday, and game time on Saturday is slated for 5:30 p.m.