Bulldogs win double OT thriller

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Both King’s Fork and Lakeland came into Tuesday night’s Southeastern District boys’ basketball game unbeaten in the district. That’s where the similarities end to a large degree.

King’s Fork is considered on the short list of state championship contenders after reaching the state quarterfinals a season ago. The Bulldogs feature five key players between 6-foot-3 and 6-foot-8.

Lakeland lost six seniors from last year’s team which was the first Cavalier team in four years to fall short of the Eastern Region Tournament. The Cavaliers don’t have a player on their roster taller than 6-foot-1.

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For much of Tuesday night, the Cavaliers, led by 33 points by 5-foot-8 David Barnes, gave home-standing King’s Fork constant headaches. King’s Fork rallied from trailing by six at halftime, sent the game into overtime with Jaquon Parker’s free throw with 0.8 seconds left in regulation, and won in double overtime 57-52.

For much of the season, Lakeland (7-3, 6-1) has outrun and out-pressured its opponents. Facing the Bulldogs (10-1, 7-0), Lakeland stalled with the ball, at times up to two minutes per possession. The Cavaliers, with ball handlers at every position, waited for the Bulldogs to gamble or waited for a favorable man-to-man matchup to attack.

More often than not, that matchup was Barnes driving to the basket for an acrobatic shot over or around a bigger Bulldog or to draw a foul.

Lakeland’s strategy was put in danger early on after KF’s Derek Wright knocked down back-to-back three-pointers to put KF up 7-0 four minutes into the game. If the Bulldogs could’ve kept building their lead, Lakeland might have had to abandon its plan. Instead, Barnes got going and brought the Cavs back into the game.

The Bulldogs led 13-9 after the first period. Dekese Cowling, who amounts to Lakeland’s power forward at a slender 6-foot-1, drove from the top of the key, around 6-foot-8 Davante Gardner, and scored to put Lakeland ahead 15-14. Barnes scored 10 of the last 12 Lakeland points in the half and the Cavs led 27-21 at halftime. Barnes scored 16 points in the half. Chris Hearn led the Bulldogs with seven points.

King’s Fork again came close to putting the Cavaliers in trouble as the Bulldogs opened the second half with a 15-2 run.

A basket in the paint, then 6-for-6 shooting at the foul line, all by Gardner, put KF up 29-27. KF led 36-29 after a breakaway lay-up by Dominique Patterson.

When the Bulldogs were close to breaking away, Lakeland countered with a three-pointer by Justin Watson and two free throws by Barnes, making the gap only 36-34 going to the fourth quarter.

A drive and right-handed scoop shot from the left side of the lane by Barnes, then a Barnes dish to Cowling for a lay-up, put Lakeland ahead 38-36 with 6:10 left in the fourth.

The game remained a tie or a two-point Lakeland lead until Hearn hit a three-pointer from deep beyond the left wing, making it 45-44 KF with 2:16 to go in regulation.

Even down a point, the Cavaliers remained patient, but a steal by Wright gave KF the ball with 1:10 left. The Bulldogs became the stalling team now, but Tony Smith’s steal returned the ball to Lakeland and the Cavaliers called timeout with 0:30 left.

With the game on the line, the Cavaliers went away from Barnes. Cowling got the ball at the high post and passed to Beamon as he cut along the baseline. Beamon made the open lay-in with 0:14 left.

The Bulldogs didn’t call timeout. Parker drove to the foul line and missed a jump shot. Watson got the rebound and was fouled with 0:05 left.

At the line, Watson missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Gardner got the board, tossed an outlet to Parker, and Parker got all the way to the right baseline, about 12 feet from the hoop, where he was fouled going up for a shot. With 0.8 seconds left, Parker missed the first foul shot, but regrouped to make the second to tie the score. An 85-foot throw by Smith bounced off the front of the rim and out and the game went to overtime.

Both teams had chances to win in the final seconds of the first overtime. With the score tied, 50-50, Wright missed two free throws with 0:10 left. On the second miss, Hearn grabbed the rebound, but missed a tough shot in the lane. Off Hearn’s miss, Barnes got the rebound, raced to the other end on a one vs. three fast break, but couldn’t get a shot off, and the horn sounded.

In the second overtime, the Bulldogs went back to their big center to finally put the game away. Gardner scored in the lane to give KF a 53-51 lead with 1:14 left.

The teams traded turnovers until another Cavalier turnover was the last big play. Patterson tipped the ball away from a Lakeland player, Wright got the loose ball and tossed it to Patterson for a lay-up.

Gardner finished with 14 points and six rebounds. Hearn and Wright finished with 13 points and nine points respectively.

Barnes had 33 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.