Bulldogs advance with 104-86 win

Published 11:48 pm Monday, February 23, 2009

In a contest with an NBA-like final score, King’s Fork advanced through its first true must-win game of the season on Monday, running by Churchland 104-86 in the first round of the Eastern Region Tournament.

The fourth-seeded Truckers from the Eastern District were game challengers for stretches of the night, but the Bulldogs led by double digits most of the way after getting out to a 33-17 lead by the end of the first quarter.

The Bulldogs (25-1) host Tallwood (21-5), 74-66 winners over Denbigh on Monday, in the regional quarterfinals on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

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In a game played at a breakneck pace, 6-foot-8, 300-pound players shouldn’t be the best guess for the night’s top scorer. KF junior Davante Gardner was just that however as he dominated with a versatile offensive game in the first half and finished the night with 36 points and 13 rebounds.

Forty seconds into the game, KF led 6-0 with baskets by Jaquon Parker, Jamar Wertz and Jay Copeland, and KF’s full-court press forced a Churchland timeout.

Churchland found offense against the Bulldogs, but could do little to stop the Bulldogs from scoring on nearly every possession.

A breakaway dunk by Parker highlighted another 6-0 KF run and put the Bulldogs up 21-10. Gardner, already with five baskets, mainly from the low post, drained a 28-footer at the horn of the first period. KF made 13 of 20 field goals (65.0 percent) and had no turnovers in the first quarter.

Churchland rallied to within 41-33 at the 3:48 mark of the half. The Bulldogs continued to feed the ball to Gardner and he continued being an unstoppable force as Churchland’s lineup, at best, had players still five inches shorter than Gardner. Gardner showed shots with both hands, of course used his power and offensive rebounding ability, and made driving baskets as well. Gardner had 25 points in the first half, Parker added 15 points, and KF led 55-42.

The Bulldogs, with a fast-break alley-oop from Parker to Copeland included, scored the first 10 points of the second half.

Rather than going away for good, the Truckers answered in the final 3:36 of the quarter. A 16-3 Churchland run brought the Truckers within seven points before the last four seconds of the quarter.

An error in the scorer’s book cost Churchland a technical foul. Two free throws by Gardner, then a banked-in three-pointer by Gardner at the buzzer gave KF a 78-66 cushion with a quarter to go.

In addition to Gardner’s 36 points, with 104 there were plenty to go around. Parker finished with 28 points, six rebounds and four steals. Copeland scored 15 points and Wertz had 13.