Down by two heading coming out of the halftime break, Tullahoma controlled the third quarter at home on Friday, using that to shockingly pick up a 72-53 victory over Lebanon at home on Friday.
“We played really hard tonight,” said THS Head Coach Jason Welch. “They are a really good team and they were 12-2 coming in tonight. They are going to be a tough team for anybody to face late in the season. We executed and did what we needed to do tonight.
“We wanted to pressure them and make them turn it over some. We needed to get baskets that way and we did… It’s an exciting start to 2020 for sure.”
Jake Hollandsworth hit the opening basket of the second half just nine seconds into the third period, as Tullahoma evened the game at 30. Lebanon answered with a quick 3-pointer, but Hollandsworth buried one of his own, tying the score at 33.
“We are down two at half and we put in a play there for Ben to run a screen for Jake to hit about a 12-footer. Or, we were going to have Ben come off the top for a 3 or Austin for a 3 on the other side,” Welsh said. “The first option was there and Jake made it. They scored to make it 33-30 and then we came back and tied it and I’m thinking, ‘This [next stretch] is important.’”
Tullahoma seized control of the matchup from that point, putting together a 14-0 run and led 47-33 with 2:51 remaining in the third period. Ben Fulton led the Wildcats during that stretch, as he put up seven points.
Ryan Scott and Krys Uselton each hit a basket for Tullahoma during that same run. Austin Secrest ended the same scoring stretch for the Wildcats after knocking down a 3-pointer.
The Wildcats managed to score six more points before the third quarter ended, as they led 53-40 entering the final period of play. Hollansworth added four free throws in the final two minutes of the third quarter for Tullahoma, while Joe Duncan hit a basket in the final seconds of the period.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats continued building on its lead, starting the stanza with a 9-4 run. Duncan scored six points during that stretch for Tullahoma. Fulton added two points and Secrest knocked down a free throw, giving the ’Cats a 62-44 lead with 3:27 remaining in the contest.
The remainder of the contest, Tullahoma outscored Lebanon 10-9, to record the victory. Scott netted six-straight points, while Mays Snipes scored the final four points for the Wildcats to wrap up the ballgame.
“There are so many good possibilities out there for this team… The kids just play super hard for us,” Welsh said.
Fulton led the Wildcats in scoring, putting up 21 points in the victory. Scott also added double figures, netting 13 points, while Duncan followed with 12 points.
Uselton led Tullahoma in rebounds, collecting six rebounds, and adding nine points. Hollandsworth also scored nine points, and grabbed five rebounds. Secrest and Snipes rounded out the scoring for the Wildcats, each putting up four points.
Tullahoma (6-9, 2-0) will host Moore County for a non-district matchup on Tuesday, before welcoming in district foe Lawrence County on Friday. Tipoff on both days is scheduled for roughly 7:30 p.m.