By Robert Carter
North Jefferson News
It wasn’t quite the one that got away, but it was close.
After taking a commanding 33-13 lead at halftime, Corner found its lead chopped away to as few as two points in the last four minutes, but hung on to finally put away Vinemont by a 51-45 score.
The victory came in Thursday’s first round of the Yellow Jackets’ own Christmas basketball tournament.
Corner was firing on all cylinders in the first half, and held a 33-13 margin at the break.
But eight straight points by Lane Stanley, on a pair of 3-pointers plus a deuce, brought the Eagles back within five barely a minute and a half into the final period.
From there, Vinemont took advantage of poor Jackets’ shooting from the floor, and a Logan Wallace trey closed the gap to two with 3:01 remaining.
The Eagles were forced to put Corner at the foul line down the stretch, and the home team responded by hitting 6-of-8 at the line, then went cold in the last 40 seconds to make just one free throw in six tries.
Vinemont, however, couldn’t hit their field goal tries at the other end, and a steal by Blake Byrd in the last 10 seconds ended the game.
Austin Sanford and Zac Pate each scored 11 points to lead the Jackets. Pate also had six rebounds and six assists. Byrd grabbed seven rebounds.
Stanley led all scorers with 19 points for Vinemont, including four triples.
Corner faces Locust Fork, the 10th-ranked team in Class 4A, in a semifinal game Friday at approximately 7:45 p.m.
In other first round games:
No. 10 (4A) Locust Fork 49, Hayden 39: Clay Smith scored 20 points, including five 3-pointers, as the Hornets held off an improving young Wildcat squad.
Kyle Hornbuckle added 13 points for the Hornets.
Duncan Parker led Hayden with 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots. The Wildcats struggled, though, with a 4-for-12 effort at the foul line plus 23 turnovers.
Hayden plays Vinemont in a consolation bracket game at 5:00 Friday.
Mortimer Jordan 68, No. 7 (1A) Marion County 56: The Blue Devils went on a tear in the third quarter to break a halftime tie, outscoring the Red Raiders 19-7 in the period and easing away from there.
Orion Recke scored 17 points and dished five assists to lead Jordan (11-1). Ben Hardiman had a perfect 6-for-6 night from the floor, including a triple, to score 13 points while grabbing six rebounds. Connor Moon was 3-for-4 from outside the arc, finishing with 11 points fot the Devils.
Deshawn Riehesehl led all scorers with 21 points for Marion County. Ready Swanigan added 16 points and Sean Wallace 13 for the Red Raiders (4-2).
Jordan plays Hanceville in the first winner’s bracket semifinal at about 6:30.