Rodgers pours in 46 in KF win

Published 8:23 pm Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Garry Murphy, King’s Fork High’s girls basketball coach, was walking towards his team’s bench shortly before the start of the second half Tuesday at Lakeland. His Bulldogs, the two-time defending Southeastern District champions, were tied with a Cavaliers squad that’s resided in the district’s lower reaches for years. Still, Murphy was upbeat.

“We just shot 15 percent and we’re tied?” Murphy rhetorically asked an assistant as they discussed the first half. “I’m thrilled.”

Murphy was even happier when King’s Fork pulled away en route to a 62-45 victory behind 46 points and 10 rebounds by star TaShauna “Sugar” Rodgers. Despite the result, his Lakeland counterpart felt much the same way.

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“I’m proud of our kids that we made it a game and stayed with them through three quarters,” said Cavaliers’ bench boss Alan Jones. “We’re progressing but we just have to be more decisive with the ball.”

That hesitation led to Lakeland committing 37 turnovers, 19 in the first half. Normally, that would have left the Cavaliers facing a substantial deficit on the scoreboard, but King’s Fork made just 4 of 26 field goals and committed 14 turnovers itself in the first two quarters.

“We shot as badly as we possibly could,” Murphy said. “So I was pretty happy it was essentially a 0-0 game going into the second half.”

Rodgers hit on just 4 of 15 shots from the floor in the first half but still scored 19 points, aided by the sinking of 10 free throws. The Bulldogs went to the charity stripe 22 times before intermission and the accumulation of fouls caught up with Lakeland when forwards Terika Lunsford and Ashley Johnson each acquired their fourth foul with roughly two minutes remaining in the third quarter.

Not surprisingly, that was about the time King’s Fork pulled away, taking its lead from four points at the time of Lunsford’s fourth foul to eight points at the start of the fourth quarter. The backbreaker was a Rodgers scoring spurt in which the Georgetown University signee scored 14 consecutive points in a three-minute span early in the fourth quarter.

Jones admitted after the game that his plan was to concede Rodgers her points and attempt to shut down her teammates.

“Everybody’s run people at Sugar and no one’s stopped her yet,” said the admiring coach. “You’ve got to try and defend the rest of their players because nobody’s been able to shut her down. When she’s hot, it’s like watching Michael Jordan shooting out there.”

Lunsford, headed to the University of Albany next season, scored 25 points and committed seven turnovers. Quanisha Knight had five points and Johnson had three. Point guard Kaylyn Chatman, hobbled by an ankle injury suffered during a Tuesday morning physical education class, was limited to passing and outside shooting and hit two 3-point shots and a free throw to finish with seven points.

Kiara Branch had seven points for King’s Fork (7-2, 5-1), which is at Deep Creek on Thursday and at Western Branch on Friday. Lakeland (3-6, 2-5) visits Nansemond River on Thursday and hosts Hickory on Friday.