King's Fork senior point guard Akanni White drives against Green Run in the first round of the regional tournament on Monday night at Western Branch High School. The Bulldogs won 55-50, advancing to play on Thursday at the Norfolk Scope Arena.
King's Fork senior point guard Akanni White drives against Green Run in the first round of the regional tournament on Monday night at Western Branch High School. The Bulldogs won 55-50, advancing to play on Thursday at the Norfolk Scope Arena.

Bulldogs move on in tourney

Published 11:05pm Monday, February 18, 2013

The King’s Fork Bulldogs used defense and superior shooting to stay ahead much of the game on Monday against Green Run High School. When it got close in the fourth, clutch free throws and more defense kept the Stallions at bay for a 55-50 Bulldog win in the opening round of the Eastern Region tournament at Western Branch High School.

“As I told them, ‘Any time you play on this level, there’s not going to be a bad team, no matter what you think,’” Bulldogs head coach Josh Worrell said.

King’s Fork has thrived through unselfish play as the season has gone on, but the Stallions posed a significant challenge because they also have more than one person who can score.

“They’re kind of identical to our team,” Bulldogs senior guard Rod Parrett said.

“When you’ve got a team like that has two or three shooters, it’s hard to kind of close in on a very good point guard that’s very crafty with the basketball,” Worrell said.

Worrell did an excellent job preparing his team for this particular contest, because he happened to arrange a pre-season scrimmage against the Stallions.

“I always try to scrimmage a team that we have a possibility of matching up with and ironically it was them, because I thought they were going to be a very good basketball team this year and I ended up thinking right,” he said.

Green Run led 15-14 after the first quarter, but consecutive baskets by Taylor and one by Parrett gave the Bulldogs the lead. King’s Fork went into the half with a 28-23 advantage.

Unlike the Southeastern District championship game where the Bulldogs struggled in the third, this time they played well, extending their lead to 10 at one point and holding the Stallions to eight points on the other end. King’s Fork benefited greatly, again, from the presence of Parrett, who led the team with 24 points.

“He has such a big heart and he’s not going to let somebody stop him, he’s going to take the challenge, defensively,” Worrell said. “He was guarding (Tyler Blount), their best shooter in the second half and there a lot in the first half. He’s another one who’s just going to do whatever he’s got to do to make sure we continue to move on.”

The Bulldogs became impatient offensively in the fourth quarter, and the Stallions also made their run then, tying it, 47-47, with 1:57 left in the game. Then after a Green Run miss, Smith took off down the court and put in a layup. On the next possession, the Stallions turned the ball over on a pass that went into the stands.

After this, freshman guard Deshaun Wethington hit four clutch free throws, explaining that he took his time, acting like he would in practice.

“Usually I feel kind of nervous, but this time I just felt a lot of confidence,” Wethington said.

“He’s a great freshman,” Worrell said. “He’s poised, he doesn’t let things frustrate him anymore; early in the year, he did. He knocked down some big free throws. He’s the kid that’s always like, ‘Coach, let me shoot free throws.’”

For one of the final plays where Green Run was sure to foul the recipient of the inbounds pass, Worrell had set it up for Wethington to get the ball.

“That’s how much confidence I have in him,” Worrell said.

“On a team like this to even get in a game it means a lot,” Wethington said. “So, by helping them out, shooting free throws in clutch situations, it means even more.”

Parrett and Smith hit free throws to account for the final score. White had nine points, Wethington ended up with seven and Smith contributed nine assists and eight rebounds.

The Bulldogs will head to the Norfolk Scope Arena on Thursday for the next round of the regional tournament.

Jacorey Smith reflected on what this return trip is like.

“It just feels good as me being a senior, helping the boys, leading the team, go to the Scope again, show the young boys what it feels like to be in the bright lights,” he said.

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