At Hartselle High Gymnasium:
Cullman 5 13 17 18 - 53 (1-1)
Hartselle 18 15 11 12 - 56 (1-0)
HALFTIME: Hartselle 33-18
CULLMAN: Dylan Finch 17, Zane Manley 12, Nick Williams 6, Drew Morton 7, Noah Bussman 3, Trey Tucker 2, JD Parrish 3, Jayden Sullins 2.
HARTSELLE: Brody Peebles 26, Trace Hill 15
FLASH NOTES: Cullman spent much of Monday evening in a double figure deficit to rival Hartselle. But Bobby Meyer's squad never surrendered and took the game down to the final buzzer.
Hartselle went up 40-18 early in the third on a three by Peebles.
Poise was the scene for Cullman in finishing with a 17-4 run, cutting the gap to 44-35 with a quarter remaining.
In the fourth, Finch came to life with nine points on four field goals. A baseline jumper at 1:37 put Cullman on top 53-52, since early in the contest.
Hartselle executed a backdoor cut play to perfection and went back in front 54-53 with 1:08 remaining.
Then came an interesting moment in the game. Cullman was fouled with 22 seconds to go as Finch went to the line to shoot. He made the front end of a one and one.
However, Hartselle coach Faron Key claimed the officials had the wrong shooter at the line. It was a correctable error, but Cullman lost a point.
Manley could not drop in the free throw, Hartselle got a rebound and put the ball into tje hands of Peebles.
Peebles would go seven for seven from the line, hitting two with 0:15 left and Hartselle led 56-53.
Cullman got two good looks to try and send the game into overtime from downtown. But the second attempt from Morton, the hero in a 58-57 win last week over Decatur, bounced off the rim as time expired.
Cullman outscored Hartselle 35-23 in the second half to make a game of it. Balanced scoring was a highlight with eight Bearcats entering the scoring column. The frontline of Finch and Manley accounted for 29 points.
Peebles was the sharpshooter in hitting treys and free throws, scoring 26 in the Tigers' opener.
A large crowd was on hand with the Hartselle student body celebrating on the floor after the game.
Cullman 9 10 11 25 - 55 (1-1)
Hartselle 16 15 12 25 - 68 (1-0)
HALFTIME: Hartselle 31-19
CULLMAN: A.K. Eastman 22, Anna Grace Murphy 11, Anna Evans 8, Hannah Hoffman 8, Alexandria Barker 3.
HARTSELLE: Moriah Taylor 19, Allison Mayfield 14, Anna Mathis 11, Masnb Marchbanks 11
FLASH NOTES: Early shooting woes spelled doom for the Lady Bearcats. Cullman got two field goals in the first quarter, with both coming late in the period.
Hartselle got three pointers flying in the second as Mayfield and Marchbanks had the shooting touch from outside. Three treys in the second lifted them to a 31-19 lead at the break.
Hartselle kept the lead at double figures and went ahead 59-42 with 2:55 to play in the game on a three by Mayfield.
Josh Hembree's Lady 'Cats came out in the final moments of the contest scorching the basket. Cullman put 13 points on the board and narrowed the margin to 59-50 with 1:46 to go on free throws from Hoffman.
But the comeback bid was put away when Hartselle knocked down six free throws in the final 36 seconds to keep the margin at arms length.
Eastman stood out as the game's top scorer, producing 12 in the final period. Taylor, the Hartselle point guard, was eight of eight at the line in the fourth. Hartselle's free throw shooting in crunch time overcame early problems when the Lady Tigers showed inconsistency.
UP NEXT: Cullman vs. Guntersville Tuesday
6:00 p.m. (G)
7:30 p.m. (V)
Photo 1: Cullman's Drew Morton (13), Noah Bussman (5), Dylan Finch (23), Jake McAffee (24) try to get open to take inbounds pass from Nic Williams.
Photo 2: A.K. Eastman leads a Cullman Lady Bearcat fastbreak down court. Hannah Hoffman (22) trails the play for Cullman.
Sportspage photos by Johnny Thornton.