Tellico Plains started well enough in the final game of the Jim Cordell Christmas Classic at Harriman High School last Saturday, but couldn’t keep pace with Wartburg down the stretch. The Bears were outmatched in the second half as the Bulldogs went on to claim the win, 68-51, in the second match up this season between the two teams.
Caleb Constant got Wartburg on the board first, but a layup by Evan Harris and a 3-pointer by Jesse Lambert took the lead back for Tellico Plains. A Piper Carter layup kept the Bears in front momentarily, but three baskets in a row from three different Bulldogs boosted Wartburg into the lead.
Carter finished the first quarter on a high note, however, and secured a layup and two free throws to keep the game knotted up at 12-all at the end of the first quarter.
A 3-point play by Carter briefly reclaimed the advantage for Tellico Plains to start the second quarter, but two layups and a 3-pointer by Colby Justes pushed the Bulldogs back out in front until a run by Tellico that got points from Carter, Dale Rinehart and Blake Burgess put the Bears in the lead 25-22.
From there, though, Elijah Langley hit a 3-pointer and Jake Bronstetter netted two baskets as part of a 7-0 Wartburg run to close out the first half before a Carter layup stopped the streak. At the break, the Bulldogs led 29-27 over the Bears in a tight affair.
Bronstetter continued a strong performance in the second half with two layups to open the third quarter. Harris and Carter answered for Tellico Plains to keep the Bears within a possession, but a 7-0 run by the Bulldogs pushed Wartburg further into the lead. A 3-pointer by Constant didn’t help the Bears’ cause, and though Lambert, Rinehart, and Burgess all scored to end the third quarter, the Bears found themselves trailing 47-41 with one quarter left to play.
Tellico Plains tried to cut into the lead in the fourth quarter, but a Carter 3-pointer and a Caleb Bivens’ layup were the only field goals the Bears could muster in the final stanza. After the Carter trey, the Bears were within 7, but an 11-0 run by Wartburg put the game away. Constant sank a second trey in the run and Justes added his second trey as well. The run was punctuated by a resounding Wartburg dunk, and Langley added another 3-pointer to help the Bulldogs pull away.
Carter led the Bears with 20 as the only Tellico Plains player in double figures. Justes led Wartburg with 15 while Constant added 13, Langley added 12 and Bronstetter added 10.