Bulldogs take showdown of regional powers

Published 12:15 am Sunday, December 7, 2008

Saturday’s Suffolk Basketball Classic at King’s Fork High was designed both as a challenge for a quartet of local teams and as an entertaining clash for city fans. It delivered on both counts, with King’s Fork defeating Norcom 82-70 and Salem beating Lakeland 77-61.

King’s Fork (3-0), considered South Hampton Roads best team after reaching the state quarterfinals last winter, met a Norcom squad that figures to also be a 2009 regional playoff participant. The Greyhounds feature lightning-quick guards Darius Theus, who had 26 points, and Deshawn Williams, who had 27.

“Our main defensive focus is to keep guys out of the middle but they got in there anyways,” said Bulldogs coach Joshua Worrell, whose team trailed by six after a quarter but led by six at halftime. “You want to beat people to the point where everyone in the region fears you. Nobody yet is like ‘Oh no, we’re playing King’s Fork.’”

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Perhaps, but opponents have to contend not only with standout guards Jamar Wertz and Jaquon Parker, but with the bulky inside tandem of center Devante Gardner and forward Jay Copeland.

Wertz had 15 points, 10 rebounds and five steals, Parker 20 points, Gardner 17 points and Copeland 17 points,10 rebounds and five blocks. The latter two players battled Norcom’s 6-foot-9 senior Webster Parker and especially impressed Greyhound coach Leon Goolsby.

“They’re tough kids with good post moves and they’re fierce on the glass,” said Goolsby, whose team dropped to 3-1. “We gave them a lot of offensive rebounds.”

Not enough for Worrell’s taste. He saw the obvious size advantage his team had under the hoop and became frustrated that his guards didn’t pound the ball inside to his twin towers.

“We didn’t do a very good job of taking advantage of the mismatch we had,” the coach said. “And then, when we did pass inside, the guy who passed it usually stood around and didn’t do a good job of moving into an opening after he released the ball.”

The Bulldogs will again be challenged in the near future when they play in the prestigious Ronald Curry tournament on the Peninsula. King’s Fork meets Northern Virginia power W.T. Woodson of Fairfax in the first round, would play the winner of a Booker T. Washington-Woodside matchup in the second round and could face familiar foe Bethel in the title game.

In Saturday’s first game, Lakeland (2-1) arrived weary after a run-and-gun Southeastern District victory over Deep Creek on Friday night. The Cavaliers trailed by a point at halftime but withered in the final two quarters.

“Deep Creek ran the heck out of us last night and tonight we didn’t have enough energy to get Salem out of their comfort zone,” said Lakeland coach James Jones. “At the same time, we’re not going to win many games with the kind of shooting we had tonight.”

The Cavaliers made just 19 of 54 field goals and 5 of 28 attempts from 3-point range. Guard Tony Smith missed all four shots he took in the first half and finished with seven points on a 2 of 14 performance from the floor. Justin Watson had 17 points and made 5 of 19 field goals.

David Barnes led Lakeland with 21 points, a night after slapping 27 on Deep Creek. Jones lauded Barnes for consistently beating the first SunDevils defender in front of him and kicking the ball outside when other opponents closed off the lane. But Barnes’ teammates couldn’t make Salem (2-0) pay for packing it in.

“They had four or five guys in the paint and he’d dish it out and we couldn’t make a shot,” Jones said.

King’s Fork 82, Norcom 70

NORCOM (3-1): D. Theus 26, Williams 27, Bunch 4, Smith 4, Mack 2, Parke 4, Canty 3. Totals: 26 16-19 70.

KING’S FORK (3-0): Hearn 4, Patterson 3, Wertz 15, Wright 6, Parker 20, Copeland 17, Gardner 17. Totals: 25 30-46.

Halftime: King’s Fork 43-37. 3-point goals: Williams, Canty, Patterson, Wertz, Wright.

Salem 77, Lakeland 61

SALEM (2-0): Gates 13, Johnson 4, Thompson 5, Ford 8, Jones 26, Lee 14, Malone 7. Totals: 28 17-27 77

LAKELAND (2-1): Smith 7, Cowling 2, Watson 17, Barnes 21, Walden 2, Beamon 2, Selters 4, Kee 6. Totals: 18 17-23 61

Halftime: Salem 37-36. 3-point goals: Gates, Johnson, Thompson, Jones, Smith 2, Watson 3.