Hartselle comeback falls shortPublished 11:22pm Friday, February 8, 2013
ATHENS – Hartselle nearly erased a 20-point first-half deficit, but East Limestone’s advantage proved to be too much to overcome, as the Indians defeated the Tigers 64-57 Friday night.
Tiger head coach Keith Wright said he was proud of his team’s effort coming back from the tough first half, but ultimately, the hole was just too deep.
“If we play loose like we did in the second half, we have a chance to win the game,” Wright said. “We were tight. We didn’t handle their pressure well and we missed open shots.
“I’m just so proud of them for fighting back so hard. To come back from 20 points down and to cut it to three points with five minutes left in the game, that just shows what this team has done all year. Our guys didn’t quit. They didn’t give up. They fought hard, just like they have all year.
“But in the end, I think we expended so much energy getting back into the game that we didn’t have anything left at the end.”
The Indians led 34-14 near the end of the first half, but just prior to the buzzer, Preston Adams sank a 3-pointer, cutting the lead to 34-17 at halftime.
“Preston Adams was our rock,” Wright said. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have scored anything in the first half.”
Adams scored all but four of the Tigers’ first-half points. Timbo Slaton, who is normally one of Hartselle’s top scorers, went scoreless in the first half.
That last bucket of the half may have inspired the Tigers to claw their way back.
And they did.
The Tigers’ chipped away at the lead all through the third quarter, outscoring the Indians 21-10 in that stanza. Prestyn Wallace beat the buzzer for a 3-pointer, cutting the deficit to 45-38 at the end of the third quarter.
The Tigers then went on an 8-2 run to open the fourth quarter. Jamal Jackson hit his third 3-pointer to start the run. Timbo Slaton added a lay-up. Then Adams hit again from downtown, cutting the lead to 49-46 with 5:13 left in the game.
However, that’s when the comeback began to run out of steam.
East Limestone scored the next six points to push the lead back to 55-46, to reassert control of the game.
From there, the Indians made enough free throws down the stretch to hold off the Tigers.
“We’ve lost a lot of close games all year,” Wright said. “This senior class has been through a lot of adversity. They have worked hard all year long. They never gave up. They never quit.”