Cornerstone advances to Elite 8

Published 11:29 am Friday, February 8, 2019

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Sports Editor

COLUMBIANA –  The Cornerstone basketball team has started clicking late in the season at the right time and on Thursday, Feb. 7, the Chargers were able to pick up a 20-point win in the first round of the playoffs by taking down Crenshaw Academy 52-32.

With the victory, Cornerstone earned a berth in the Elite Eight of the AISA playoffs where they’ll take on Southern Academy on Monday, Feb. 11, at the Crampton Bowl MultiPlex at 4:30 p.m.

While the 52 points offensively were more than enough to pick up the win, it was the effort defensively that led the Chargers to the dominant victory thanks to holding Crenshaw to 10 points or less in all four quarters of the game.

In the opening quarter, Xaveon Smith and Tanner Falkner each started a hot night from beyond the arc where the two combined to make nine 3-pointers in the game.

Smith knocked down two in the first quarter, as well as a field goal, to post eight points, while Falkner hit one 3-pointer, as the two players posted 11 of the team’s 12 points.

Their impressive offensive start combined with the defense holding Crenshaw to eight points, which allowed the Chargers to take a 12-8 lead at the end of one.

The defensive effort from Cornerstone only got better in the second quarter, as the Chargers gave up a quarter low for the game by allowing only five points in the frame.

While Cornerstone’s offense wasn’t able to find as much success from the field in the second quarter, Drew Largin went 4-4 from the free throw line and Falkner posted six more points to give the team 10 more points, which was more than enough to extend the lead to 22-13 at the half.

During the break, Cornerstone figured out how to get the ball back in the hands of both Smith and Falkner to spark the offense yet again.

The two combined for 14 points in the third period thanks to each knocking down two 3-pointers, while Falkner also posted an additional jumper. Brody Edwards added two more points, as the Chargers had posted their best quarter of the game with 16 points.

Defensively, they gave up their most of the game at 10 points, but yet again Cornerstone had done more than enough to extend its lead, taking a 15-point 38-23 lead into the final period.

The fourth quarter became about free throw shooting. Leading by 15 points, all the Chargers had to do was knock down their free throws, and that’s what they did.

They went 7-8 from the line to put the pressure on Crenshaw, who went just 5-8 and got very little offensive production aside from that to only post nine points in the frame.

Cornerstone closed out the game with a total of seven more points from Falkner, while the team scored 14 points to pull away for the 20-point victory.

Falkner led the Chargers with 24 points, while Smith added 16. The two players combined for 40 of the team’s 52 points. Tanner ended the game 5-3 from beyond the arc.