KF nearly pulls out win without Sugar

Published 10:34 pm Friday, December 26, 2008

Poor second-half shooting and a shortage of Sugar combined to bring down the King’s Fork High girls basketball team Friday. The Bulldogs fell 66-64 to Norfolk Collegiate in the first round of the Lady Greyhounds Holiday Classic at I.C. Norcom High and on Saturday afternoon face the loser of a Churchland-Woodside first-round clash that tipped off after 9 p.m. Friday.

After sinking all 12 of their free throws and 12 of 28 field-goal attempts in the first half, King’s Fork connected on just 6 of 17 free throws and 8 of 40 field-goal attempts after intermission. Standout swing player TaShauna “Sugar” Rodgers hurt her back in a violent, running collision with a teammate shortly before the break. After vomiting in the locker room, she played only four minutes in the second half.

Despite those challenges, the Bulldogs were within 66-62 with 10 seconds to play and got the ball to Brittany Robinson for a 3-point shot. The effort didn’t connect and although Kiara Branch sank two free throws after rebounding the miss and being fouled, King’s Fork could manage only one more field-goal try, a wild, half-court shot as time expired.

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“If there’s any moral victory, it was seeing our girls can play without Sugar on the floor,” said coach Garry Murphy, who watched his star foul out with three minutes to play. “That shows growth for our team.”

With even a mediocre shooting performance in the final 16 minutes, King’s Fork would have advanced in the tournament’s winners bracket. However, its shooting touch all but disappeared. Point guard Erica Jefferson had 13 first-half points while hitting 4 of 7 field goals and all three of the 3-point shots she attempted. Jefferson had one point in the second half and was 0 of 8 from the field. Rodgers sank 6 of 14 field goals and had 14 first-half points before going 2 of 8 and putting up five points after halftime.

The Bulldogs led 39-36 at halftime and 48-46 after three quarters, but went scoreless on their first six possessions of the fourth quarter. King’s Fork (4-2) committed three turnovers and missed four shots in that span, by which time Norfolk Collegiate led 53-48 with a little more than five minutes to play. The Oaks improved to 5-2 with Friday’s victory and were led in scoring by Markell Smith with 22 points.