Madisonville-North Hopkins scored the last eight points of the first half and used a 12-2 run late in the third quarter to push past host Caldwell County on Friday in both teams’ District 7 opener.

The Maroons (1-0 overall, 1-0 in District 7) trailed the Tigers (0-2, 0-1) 31-25 after junior guard Jabrion Spikes hit a layup with 2:28 left in the second quarter. But then, Kale Gaither hit two layups and Chris Price put one in to tie the game with 1:32 left in the first half before Gaither hit a jumper with 1:13 left in the period to give Madisonville-North Hopkins a 33-31 halftime lead.

Caldwell County fought back in the third quarter, taking a 38-36 lead when senior guard Tripp Branch sank a jumper with 6:28 left in the quarter. The Tigers took their last lead of the game when senior forward Tate VanHooser hit two free throws to put CCHS ahead 40-38 with 5:34 left in the third.

The Maroons went on a 12-2 run from that point, taking a 50-42 lead when Gaither made a layup with 5:56 left in the fourth quarter, then holding the lead for the rest of regulation.

CCHS head coach Daniel Kukahiko praised his young squad for standing up to a tough district opponent.

“When you’re a young team, you’re supposed to be timid, you’re supposed to play a little bit on your heels, you’re supposed to play a certain way, and we played just the opposite,” he said. “Those guys — man, they’re fun to coach.”

Kukahiko said that having VanHooser on the team this year is making a difference.

“Tate was a beast tonight inside there,” he said of the senior who pulled down a game-high 12 rebounds. “He was all over the place. He took a charge down on the other end of the floor. He got his hands on a whole lot of basketballs. He’s a workhorse.

“Coming back to the program after a few years off, he’s going to continue to get better because I know he’s going to work.”

Kukahiko said there are some aspects of the game that the team will work on.

“I don’t think we shot well from the arc; I don’t think we shot the ball well from the free-throw line,” he said, excepting Spikes’ 10-for-11 performance from the stripe. The rest of the team went 11-for-20 (55%).

Caldwell County made 16 of its 45 shots from the field, a 37.8% effort that included a 13-for-30 performance (43.3%) inside the arc and a 3-for-15 night (20%) behind the arc.

Kukahiko said that Madisonville-North Hopkins is a tough team to face this early in the schedule.

“Madisonville is a good basketball team,” he said. “They’re well coached; they’re well disciplined. I just go back to being proud of that and those 11 guys in the locker room.”

Spikes led all scorers with 25 points on 10-for-11 shooting from the free-throw line. Branch put in 20 points, while VanHooser chipped in seven.

Spikes pulled down nine rebounds for the Tigers and Branch hauled in seven.

Gaither led Madisonville-North Hopkins with 24 points on 10 baskets. Landon Cline added 13 points on 8-for-9 shooting from the free-throw line, while Zach Tow put in six points.

Tow had a team-high 10 rebounds for the Maroons, while Ashton Gaines had five.

Caldwell County hosted Livingston Central Tuesday in the first round of the All A Classic.

The Tigers will host Lyon County at 7 p.m. Monday at the Community Activities Building (The CAB on campus) before traveling to Russellville for a 7:30 p.m. Tuesday matchup.

MNH 15-18-15-14=62

CCHS 17-14-11-14=56

MADISONVILLE-NORTH HOPKINS (62) — Danye Frazier 3-9 2-4 8, J.T. Witherspoon 0-0 0-0 0, Kale Gaither 10-16 2-2 23, Ashton Gaines 1-3 1-2 3, Landon Cline 2-5 8-9 14, Zach Tow 2-6 2-4 6, Isaac Parish 0-2 0-0 0, Brytton Walker 0-0 0-0 0, Alaric Dulin 0-0 0-0 0, Lajuan MacAdoo 0-1 3-4 3, Destin Cheirs 1-3 0-1 2, Chris Price 1-2 1-2 3. Total 20-51 19-28 62.

CALDWELL COUNTY (56) — Zavy Bumphus 0-3 0-0 0, Tripp Branch 6-17 6-8 20, Jabrion Spikes 7-12 10-11 25, Carter Whittington 1-4 0-0 2. Tate VanHooser 2-6 3-6 7, Collin Whittington 0-2 2-4 2, Demarius Thompson 0-1 0-0 0, Giovante Riley 0-0 0-2 0. Total 16-45 21-31 56.