Bulldogs repeat as SED tourney champs

Published 11:46 pm Friday, February 20, 2009

King’s Fork completed an undefeated, 21-0, season through the Southeastern District Friday night by beating Lakeland in the district tournament final, 71-64. The Bulldogs are back-to-back tournament champions.

KF senior swingman Jaquon Parker, with 27 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in the final, earned tournament MVP honors on his home court for the second consecutive year.

Much like the first two times the Suffolk rivals met this season, with the Bulldogs winning both contests, swings in momentum were the norm.

Email newsletter signup

The Bulldogs opened the game on fire. Parker banked in a three-pointer to open the scoring, then made a trey in more normal fashion to make it 6-0. KF rolled to a 10-0 lead 1:01 into the game and to 16-5 after Parker banked in another three-pointer at the 4:20 mark of the first.

Justin Watson’s long-range shooting led Lakeland back into the game. A Watson three gave him seven points early on and brought Lakeland with 16-13. KF led 20-15 at the quarter’s end.

Lakeland kept coming and on another Watson three-pointer, the Cavaliers had erased KF’s full-speed start and taken a 23-22 lead with 5:27 to go in the half.

“We got off to a hot start, but we knew it would be a game of runs. I told our guys we’d get the next run,” said Worrell.

Parker hit a jumper to break Lakeland’s rally, then a steal and breakaway dunk by Jamar Wertz energized the home crowd. KF outscored Lakeland 15-4 in the last 5:27 of the half to take a 37-27 lead. Parker led KF with 15 points in the half. Watson and David Barnes had 10 each for Lakeland.

The Bulldogs, with four starters taller than anyone on Lakeland’s roster, used a 22-9 rebounding advantage in the first half.

In the second half, KF turned inside more than during the first half. Davante Gardner’s six points led KF in the third period. Three three-pointers by Watson kept Lakeland in shouting distance going to the fourth.

Along with the rebounding margin, KF’s advantage inside led to Cavalier foul trouble. Going to the fourth period four Lakeland post players had either three or four fouls.

“We knew (Lakeland) would have another run, that’s why when we were up by 11 or 12 during the third period I was telling them ‘we’ve got to extend this lead,’ and we weren’t able to do it. Then Lakeland hits two threes and it’s a four-point game,” said Worrell.

KF’s lead was 60-48 after a Parker three with six minutes left, and still 64-55 after Lakeland’s Tony Smith hit a three with 4:27 to play.

A pair of free throws by Steven Woods and another trey by Smith suddenly got the Cavs right into the game, down 64-60 with 3:30 left. After a Lakeland steal, Smith had a shot from the same spot on the left wing, but his three rimmed out.

A lay-up by Woods made it 64-62 with two minutes and counting, but a bucket in the paint by Gardner made it a two-possession game again and the Cavs got no closer.

The bigger Bulldogs built an advantage at the foul line throughout the night, making 23 of 31 (74.2 percent) compared to 12 of 17 by Lakeland. Gardner made 3 of 4 in the last 0:42, his last two sealing the outcome by giving KF a three-possession lead with 0:11 left.

Worrell had his Bulldogs celebrate by cutting down the nets, even as his team, ranked second in the state, has plenty still to play for.

“We did this last year, but some of the players here didn’t experience this last year,” said Worrell. “Winning a championship is not something any player should take for granted.”

Gardner finished with 18 points and seven rebounds. Jay Copeland added 10 points and 10 boards. Wertz, usually a main scorer for the Bulldogs, was held to nine points, but still added nine rebounds and four assists.

Watson’s 19 points led Lakeland. Barnes had 18 points and eight assists. Smith finished with 14 points. Woods, who fouled out in the last minute, had 10 points.

Both teams move into the Eastern Region Tournament which starts Monday. King’s Fork (24-1) will host Churchland at 7:30 p.m. while Lakeland (16-8) will face Booker T. Washington at Indian River at 6 p.m.