Great Bridge leashes Bulldogs

Published 10:02pm Friday, January 18, 2013

By Matthew Hatfield
Correspondent

Two nights after losing a heartbreaker to rival Nansemond River at home, the King’s Fork basketball team headed to Chesapeake to take on the Southeastern District-leading Great Bridge Wildcats.

Three times in the last five minutes, King’s Fork would pull within one point, but ultimately they couldn’t tie the game or score the go-ahead basket, falling short 54-50 to drop their record to 11-5 overall, 8-4 in the district.

“I told the kids afterwards that I’m not frustrated with the execution or the hustle,” King’s Fork head basketball coach Josh Worrell said. “We just went out there and didn’t capitalize on our opportunities.”

“We had our opportunities and we squandered them. It’s tough, but I told them we’ll be better from this and you’ve shown yourself you can play with anybody, you can beat anybody you play and we’ve just got to take advantage of opportunities.”

King’s Fork went on a 10-0 spurt midway through the first quarter, keyed by a pair of three-pointers from guard Rod Parrett and a couple of steals from guard Jacorey Smith. The Bulldogs took a 12-11 lead into the second quarter and extended that up to 24-15, with 2:05 to play in the second quarter before Great Bridge scored the final four points of the half. The Bulldogs had eight assists on their 10 field goals in the first half.

Great Bridge junior guard Marcus Evans, who came in leading the Southeastern District in scoring at 18.5 points per game, missed his first four shots and didn’t score his first points until 1:07 to go in the second quarter.

The Bulldogs did a more-than-respectable job on Evans in the first half, limiting him to just four points as they mixed up their defenses, applying a half-court trap and full-court pressure. But he was able to score 10 in the second half, including some timely buckets on pull-up jumpers that thwarted a couple of King’s Fork runs in the fourth quarter.

“I told them you’ve got to stay in front of Evans and deny him the ball. In games like this, at the end of the ballgame he’s going to attack the bucket, get the whistle and we’ve just got to defend as best we can,” remarked Worrell, whose team saw Great Bridge go on an 18-3 run to open the third period and put King’s Fork in a double-digit hole.

“We won three quarters out of four. Unfortunately, we lost the third quarter by too much. This is the first time all season that we only lose one quarter and we lose. Every other time we win three quarters, we win the ballgame.”

Even though the Bulldogs outscored their foe 19-14 in the final period, they were done in by a couple of crucial free-throw misses, turnovers and lay-ups at the wrong times. The third quarter featured eight turnovers. They had only five in the other three periods combined.

Parrett and Smith scored 12 points each to lead the Bulldogs. Smith added four steals on defense. Donte Ralph contributed 10 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Akanni White tallied eight points, four assists and three steals.

King’s Fork has already beaten each of the six opponents it will face to finish the season, which makes a season-ending hot streak a real possibility and would give the Bulldogs some momentum going into the district playoffs. Plus, many of the ingredients are there for a Bulldogs team that has four starters back from a team that finished one win shy of the Group AAA State Tournament last year.

“I think we’re right here, right where we need to be,” Worrell said. “We easily could be on a 12-game winning streak right now. A bucket here or there changes the game. I feel we’re playing much better, people are buying into what we want them to do, and they’re being unselfish with the basketball. We just couldn’t knock down a couple key buckets to pull this one out.”

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