Shelby breaks Cornerstone’s streak

Published 4:23 pm Wednesday, January 14, 2009

After losing its first game of the season Dec. 20 to Cornerstone Christian, 72-44, Shelby Academy head coach Kevin Smith knew something had to change before the two met in region play Tuesday.

“We basically took the offense and scarped it, took the defense and scrapped it and went back to the drawing board,” Smith said.

The start-from-scratch plan worked, as No. 8 Shelby knocked off previously unbeaten Cornerstone, 52-45, at home Tuesday, giving the Chargers their first loss of the season.

“They gave us our first loss so our guys were pretty excited to give them their first loss,” Smith said. “It means a little more to break Cornerstone’s streak.”

Fifth-ranked Cornerstone took a 6-2 lead to start the game, but the Raiders began to eliminate the Chargers’ main offensive threat – leading scorer JV McKinney.

“We decided we were going to make him play our tempo, slow the game a little bit and make him defend a little bit,” Smith said.

The slowing of the game put McKinney in early foul trouble and kept him on the bench most of the first half. That helped Shelby go up by five, 17-12, after the first quarter and carry a 33-20 lead into halftime.

Sean Gilbert led the Raiders with 20 points, including 4-of-4 from the free throw line in the final minutes. Hunter Winslet also hit late free throws to help the Raiders hold off a late Cornerstone run that pulled the Chargers with in a point, 46-45, with two minutes to play.

Bobby Sexton scored six points off the bench for Shelby, while Jacob Lumpkin and Colton Wingard added seven points. Jason McDaniel was second in scoring with eight points.

Stephen Bulger helped Cornerstone fight back by cleaning up the glass with nine points in the game. Pokey Reece had seven, while Kendall Moore and Clayton Halbert had six each.

The win puts Shelby (15-3, 11-0) in first place in AISA 1A, Region 1, while Cornerstone (15-1, 10-1) falls to second. The two will meet again at Cornerstone on Jan. 27.

“Cornerstone’s still the team to beat. We were lucky enough to protect our home floor,” Smith said. Coosa Valley has players that can beat you any time also. We’ve just got to rely on our defense a little longer.”