KF now one win from states

Published 10:11 pm Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It took until the fourth period, but moved King’s Fork past Tallwood in the quarterfinals of the Eastern Region boys basketball tournament, 80-65, and to within one more win of reaching the Group AAA State Tournament.

Leading 49-45 heading to the last eight minutes, the Bulldogs (26-1) broke the game open with runs of 7-0 and 9-0 in the first 4:11 of the period.

King’s Fork shared the leading role during the second half after Tallwood, behind hot three-point shooting in the first half, had a 35-32 lead at the half.

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In the first couple minutes of the half, it was senior shooting guard Jamar Wertz. Wertz hit a three-pointer to put KF up 37-35 1:15 into the period and scored seven of the first nine KF points in the quarter. KF won the third period 17-10 to take a slim lead to the fourth.

Senior swingman Jaquon Parker, with 12 points in the first three quarters, stepped up throughout the last period. He started KF’s 7-0 run with a three-point play in the paint. Junior power forward Jay Copeland scored the next two baskets for KF, making it 56-47 KF.

Tallwood’s outside shooting made one last stand. Darius Kelley, who hit six three-pointers on the night, made two treys to bring the Lions within 56-53 with 5:50 left.

Another Parker three-point play, this time off a steal and drive all the way for a lay-up, sparked KF’s next crucial run. Derek Wright’s steal and fast-break lay-up, then a bucket by Chris Hearn took KF’s lead to 65-53 with 3:49 to go.

Parker’s third three-point play of the quarter, or more accurately, less than four minutes of action, pushed KF’s lead to 70-55 with 3:13 left and basically sealed the outcome.

Parker finished with 24 points and seven rebounds. Wertz had 17 points, 11 rebounds and four assists. Copeland added 13 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.

Early in the contest, the Beach District’s Lions controlled much of the game. Senior Jerald Jernigan carried Tallwood with 13 points in the first period. Jernigan scored eight points in the last 1:30 of the first period and his three in the last few seconds made it 20-20.

Kelley, a substitute for the Lions, started his long-range shooting in the second period and one of his treys gave Tallwood its largest lead of the night, 28-21.

While the three-point shooting was the obvious reason for Tallwood’s lead through most of the first half, KF head coach Josh Worrell saw a flaw in what’s usually a big strength for his Bulldogs.

“We wanted to get up and down the floor, and we love to do it, but we’ve got to get rebounds first,” said Worrell.

The smaller Lions “outhustled” the Bulldogs in the first half said Worrell.

“At halftime I just said, ‘this is your last time playing here anyway, do you want to end with a loss?’.”

Worrell had his Bulldogs tighten their defense on Tallwood’s spot-up shooting and force the Lions into tougher shots.

“We knew they shoot a tremendous amount of threes, and when they’re on they can stay with anybody. When you get down to the last eight, every team is good,” said Worrell.

Jernigan finished with 19 points, but only four in the second half. KF also used a big advantage at the foul line. KF was 23 of 32 at the stripe compared to 7 of 10 for the Lions.

KF’s semifinal game is set for Thursday night at Churchland High School against the winner of Tuesday night’s Hampton vs. Great Bridge game.