Rally falls short for Lady Bulldogs

Published 11:46 pm Monday, February 23, 2009

King’s Fork rallied from a 10-point deficit late in the fourth period, but couldn’t keep the rally going as Wilson advanced to the final eight of the Eastern Region girls basketball tournament Monday night at King’s Fork.

Despite 32 points, 15 rebounds and six steals from TaShauna Rodgers, in what turned out to be her last game for the Lady Bulldogs, the Lady Presidents prevailed 78-74.

Rodgers could’ve had more to add for the Lady Bulldogs, but rules are rules, even for a McDonald’s All-American.

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Rodgers, along with starting shooting guard Tamara Stone, were not in the starting lineup for missing practice, said KF head coach Garry Murphy.

Both entered the game four minutes into the first period. By that time, Wilson, a bigger and deeper squad than KF to begin with, had run out to a 10-1 lead.

By the end of the first period, KF was within 14-10. Simone Ricks was battling taller and bigger Wilson players in the paint and she had five rebounds in the first period. Stone led KF with five points in the quarter and KF’s defense had forced five Wilson turnovers.

The Lady Bulldogs rebounded with Wilson throughout the game and, although smaller at every spot on the floor, wound up causing foul trouble against Wilson. By the game’s end, four Wilson players, including the three best post players for the Lady Presidents, had fouled out.

KF drew even, 16-16, at the 4:04 mark of the second period on a jumper by Erica Jefferson and took a 20-18 lead 30 seconds later on two free throws by Whitney Nichols. In the last minute of the period, Stone buried two three-pointers, the last being the last points of the half and good for a 33-29 KF lead. Of 23 points in the second period for KF, Rodgers scored four and had six total at the half.

Wilson, with one or two trapping defenders running at Rodgers every time she touched the ball, kept Rodgers quiet through the third period as well.

Offensively, the Lady Presidents turned inside with 5-foot-11 Eulandra Forrest leading the way. Forrest scored 19 of her 21 points and got 12 of her 15 rebounds in the second half.

Wilson took the lead with a 7-0 run in the first 1:07 of the half and kept going to a 26-8 third period score and a 55-41 lead going to the fourth period. Wilson held Rodgers to three points in the quarter.

The first outburst by Rodgers started with the first basket of the fourth period. Rodgers got a steal near midcourt and went in for a three-point play. Rodgers scored the next two baskets, bringing KF within 55-48.

The charge didn’t last though and Wilson maintained a 70-60 lead with less than three minutes to go.

Even with her struggles for most of the night, Rodgers almost pulled the game out for KF in the final minutes.

With Rodgers scoring twice off of steals in the backcourt, eight straight points by Rodgers made it 70-70 with 1:07 remaining.

With two Lady Presidents already fouled out, Shakiyla Finney came up with the play to put Wilson up for good. Her driving jumper which turned into a three-point play gave Wilson a 73-70 lead with 0:58 left.

Nichols, at 5-foot-1, went in the paint and fouled out Forrest a few seconds later and a pair of free throws by Stone made it 75-74 Wilson with 10.2 seconds left.

KF’s final chance came when Jasmine Pringle went 1 of 2 at the line with 5.9 seconds left. Rodgers had the rebound momentarily, but had the ball stripped away. Pringle made both shots this time, now with 3.2 seconds left, giving Wilson a 78-74 margin.

Finney had 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists to compliment Forrest’s game inside.

For the Lady Bulldogs, Stone had 16 points and six rebounds. Nichols finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

King’s Fork, which reached the regional tournament for the fourth straight season, finishes the season 17-8 overall.