Lady Bulldogs edge past Churchland

Published 10:01 pm Saturday, December 27, 2008

PORTSMOUTH-Less than 24 hours after falling to a team it certainly could have beaten, the King’s Fork High girls basketball team squeaked past a shorthanded opponent it probably should have put away by halftime.

The Bulldogs’ 59-57 defeat of Churchland in the Lady Greyhounds Holiday Classic at Norcom High earned them a third-round matchup Monday with the winner of Sunday’s Menchville-Norview clash. That game tipped off shortly after King’s Fork left the floor.

“Our team played with no real sense of urgency,” said disappointed King’s Fork coach Garry Murphy. “We were passive and any time you let a team hang around in a game, you can have problems at the end. There are too many variables you can’t control and that can be the difference in a close game.”

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King’s Fork (5-2) started slowly against a team missing two seniors out of town during the holiday break. Churchland (1-7) led 13-5 with two minutes remaining in the first quarter and showed determination despite disadvantages in experience and athleticism.

The Bulldogs rallied with eight unanswered points to lead 16-13 after a quarter. J.Q. Bellot hit a 3-point shot and one from inside the arc, and TaShauna “Sugar” Rodgers sank two of her four treys. The Truckers came back to lead 30-23 late in the second quarter but Rodgers again hit two baskets during a charge that gave her team a 33-30 advantage at halftime.

Leading 48-39 after three quarters, King’s Fork found itself in a 53-53 deadlock with a little more than two minutes to play. Rodgers hit a 2-point shot and a pair of free throws and Bellot two from the charity stripe down the stretch and Churchland’s final basket came with three seconds to play.

Rodgers finished with 33 points, 17 in the first half, and Murphy pronounced her “90 percent” recovered from a nasty spill Friday that injured her back.

“That’s the sign of a good player,” Murphy said. “She wants to play and when the game’s on the line, she wants to carry the team on her back.”

Bellot had 12 points and Keasha Litman led Churchland with 18 points.