Hornets fall in opening round of Tip-Off
By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Writer
CHELSEA — The opening round of the North Shelby Tip-Off Tournament was far from kind for the host Chelsea Hornets, as they fell to the Tuscaloosa County Wildcats 70-44 on Nov. 25.
The Wildcats set the tone early, as the first points of the game came courtesy of a 3-pointer from Que Hall. Chelsea’s Malik Abrams and Jackson Burdette combined to boost Chelsea to a 4-3 lead.
Down 5-4, Abrams hit a three to give the Hornets a 7-5 lead. Unfortunately for Chelsea, it was short lived as the Wildcats used another Hall three combined with a Chris Gilliam basket to take a 10-7 lead.
The Wildcats then proceeded to take over the game, going on a 15-5 run on the back of two consecutive 3-pointers by Justin Guy to end the quarter.
Things didn’t fare much better in the second quarter. The Wildcats’ shooting clinic continued, as TCHS opened up with a 10-1 run.
Abrams’ made free throw got Chelsea on the board, but the young Hornets struggled to get points on the board, mustering just four in the second half to head into the intermission trailing 38-18.
Regardless of being down, Chelsea came out undeterred in the second half. Darrell Foster netted two points to cut the lead to 38-20, but TCHS came back on a 6-2 run to keep the Hornets at bay, 44-22.
Despite a three from David Mock, shots just did not seem to fall for the Hornets, who shot 27 percent for the night.
Chelsea refused to go down quietly, however. The Hornets opened the fourth quarter with two points from Darrell Foster, a three by Michael Towery, a two-point basket by David Simpson, another one by Lanzi and back-to-back three-pointers by Jeremy Wilson, but it was too little, too late for the Hornets as they fell 70-44.
Head coach Michael Napp said he felt his team was trying to work around a key injury to Austin Washington.
“Coming out of our summer season, we had a really good team with an identity and roles that everyone understood,” wrote in an email following the game. ”Now, we are searching for an identity. He was our best defender and leading scorer last season, and he was the engine that made us go. Without him, we are lacking in energy and production, and I am looking for players to fill the void left in his absence.”
Darrell Foster paved the way for Chelsea with 12 points and seven rebounds, while David Simpson had seven points and two rebounds.
The Hornets move on to face John Carroll in the second round.