King’s Fork senior guard Jacorey Smith drives the baseline against Grassfield on Friday in the quarterfinal round of the district tournament at King’s Fork High School. Smith led the second-seeded Bulldogs with 22 points en route to a 84-64 win over the seventh-seeded Grizzlies.

Bulldogs knock off Grassfield

Published 8:42pm Saturday, February 9, 2013

Grassfield hung around for quite a while against King’s Fork on Friday night, but the Bulldogs pulled away in the second half with an 84-64 win in the quarterfinal round of the Southeastern District tournament at King’s Fork High School.

Bulldogs head coach Josh Worrell was disappointed by his team’s lackluster effort and defensive performance for much of the game.

“Grassfield out-hustled and out-worked us for three quarters,” he said.

Second-seeded King’s Fork led 24-16 after the first quarter, but that lead narrowed to 35-29 at halftime. The Bulldogs put up 22 points in the third quarter, but the seventh-seeded Grizzlies still put up 17 to remain within striking distance.

The stakes of the game were high. If King’s Fork had lost, its season would have ended. The team not only would have been eliminated from the district tourney, but also would have failed to earn a guaranteed first-round game in the regional tournament. Worrell hit on these points when talking to his team at halftime.

“I told them, I said, ‘If you want your season to end now, go ahead and continue to play like that in the second half,’” he said. “It was just really frustrating to see our effort.”

The Bulldogs put up 49 points in the second half, but it was what took place at the other end of the court that made the difference in the game.

“We gave a better defensive effort the last quarter and a half,” Worrell said.

The play of two of his guards drew specific praise.

“Defensively, in the second half, Rod Parrett and Deshaun Wethington did a great job on (Trey) Fayton, their best player,” Worrell said.

Worrell was surprised when he noticed that he had been limited to 11 points.

“I think we really got him worn down and tired having to run to get open with the defense we were playing against him,” Worrell said.

The Bulldogs were also impressive on offense, led by senior guard Jacorey Smith, who had 22 points to go along with eight rebounds, five assists and four steals.

Fellow senior guard Rod Parrett began sinking some three-pointers in the second half and ended up with 18 points on the night.

“I was just listening to my team,” he said. “They kept telling me to keep shooting it and eventually it will fall.”

Senior small forward Byron Taylor had 15 points, 12 boards, six assists and four steals, and senior forward Donte’ Ralph had 10 points.

Though Worrell expected better from his team for much of the game, he acknowledged the difficulty inherent in playing Grassfield again.

“Trying to beat somebody three times is hard, no matter what team it is,” he said. “They know you, you know them, and it’s hard to stay focused.”

This concept has special bearing on the future as the Bulldogs now turn their attention to Tuesday’s semifinal round contest. It will be the third game this season against cross-town rival and third-seeded Nansemond River, which won earlier on Friday against Indian River.

“We’re ready for it,” Jacorey Smith said. “We’re just ready for it.”

“I can’t wait, can’t wait,” Parrett added. “They took two from us. We owe them this one. This one is for all the marbles right here.”

“It’s the next game in our mission,” Worrell said. “As I told them, I said, ‘At the beginning of the season, you wanted to put a banner on the wall. This is the next step to doing that. So, hopefully we’re ready to play.’”

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