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Slow Start: Cardinals pull away from rival Munford

By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MLS-01-19-Alex Malone

Munford's Javier Wherry breaks through the double team of Cardinals Alex Malone and Jordan Johnson Friday night in Munford.

Munford’s Javier Wherry breaks through the double team of Cardinals Alex Malone and Jordan Johnson Friday night in Munford.

MLS-01-19-Gatlin to rimThe Brighton Cardinals opened the District 13-3A schedule earlier this month with an impressive 70-36 win over Dyer County.
Entering their second league game Friday night, Brighton Head Coach Stan Gatlin had an uneasy feeling about the Munford Cougars. It took Gatlin and his Cardinals a moment to adjust to the flow and the Cougars in the Munford Gymnasium holding a 14-10 lead after one quarter.
Whenever in doubt, Gatlin goes to the old formula of defense. Brighton held Munford to 3 points in the second quarter. That effort helped the Cardinals prevail 52-29.
“I was saying before the game, ‘Records don’t mean anything,’” Gatlin said. “’They’re going to give us their best shot.’ We had to have more intensity and execute, especially defensively. We have some things we have as I saw tonight. Overall I’m pleased we got the win. We did enough to get over the hump.”
Ryan Ross’ Cougars came out going blow for blow with the Cardinals. Munford players like Deon Banks, Kelan Ivy and James Farrow matched Brighton players Jordan Johnson, Taelyr Gatlin and Zach Lewis in making the score 7-7.
After a Brighton technical foul shot made the score 8-7, Ethan Bell hit a three-pointer to make the Cardinals’ advantage 11-7.
Munford had an answer with Kyree Cunningham’s three-point play to make the score 11-10. Before the final buzzer of the first quarter Gatlin hit a triple.
Still in need of a spark, Bell came through for Brighton hitting another three-pointer to make the scoreboard read 17-10 in favor of Brighton.
The Cardinals outscored Munford 12-3 in the second quarter to lead 26-13 at the break.
The Cougars outscored Brighton 11-9 in the third quarter starting with a Javier Wherry three-pointer. Munford teammates Ivy, Banks and Zach Yelvington tried to get the Cougars back into the game with buckets.
Brighton still held a 35-24 advantage going into the final quarter. Once again it was Bell to the rescue for the Cardinals.
The senior guard hit a long range shot to spark the Cardinals on a 8-0 run making the score 43-24.
“That was very important,” Coach Gatlin said. “You’ve got to have guys who can contribute like that. That’s one of the things he’s known for offensively is knocking down shots. He had been off the last couple of games, so tonight was needed.
“When everybody is knocking down shots and doing their thing, we’re hard to beat,” he added. “When they’re not, we have to find those extra points somewhere. We don’t want to put everything on Tayelr. Because Brighton is not a one-man show. We have several guys who can contribute and be the leading scorer.”
Munford stopped Brighton’s run when Ivy made a three-point play. On Brighton’s next possession, Aaron Alston made a three-point play of his own to seize control of the game.
With Taelyr Gatlin and his backcourt mate Lewis nursing aches in the final quarter, senior guard Alex Malone closed out Munford with a pair of layups.
“I was glad Tayelr and Zach were able to push through it tonight battling cramps,” Coach Gatlin concluded. “I’m actually proud of all of them overcoming the adversity tonight.”

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