Bulldogs vs. Colonels for the championship

Published 10:26 pm Thursday, March 12, 2009

Friday night’s Group AAA state championship boys basketball game is all about “respect” and two teams looking for the one, last, huge step to earn respect.

King’s Fork High School opened five years ago and through its first two seasons of boys basketball, the Bulldogs faced nothing but adversity.

In 2004-05, the Bulldogs, under head coach Joshua Worrell, lost every game and any margin under 30 points was a sign of moving in the right direction. In 2005-06, the Bulldogs were 2-20 and winning their first district game, late in the season against Oscar Smith, was the highlight of the year.

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In 2006-07, King’s Fork moved into the upper tier of the Southeastern District and reached the Eastern Region Tournament and the rapid growth of the Bulldogs has led to the Group AAA title game. King’s For (30-1) is trying to become the first Suffolk school to win a boys basketball state title since Nansemond River won the Group AA title in 1995.

Roanoke’s William Fleming (25-4) won the Group AA state championship in 2007, then was moved up to Group AAA for the 2007-08 school year. Reaching the same level of success against the larger schools is behind the Colonels’ desire for respect.

After dispatching previously-perfect Petersburg, with a frontline listed at 6 foot 9, 6 foot 6 and 6 foot 5, the Bulldogs will again, as they have for most of the season, be the side with the advantage in the paint.

William Fleming’s match-up against KF’s Davante Gardner and Jay Copeland is 6 foot 7 senior Jamelle Hagins. Hagins posted 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks in Fleming’s 54-53 quarterfinal victory over Booker T. Washington; then 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Colonels in their 65-62 win over John Marshall on Wednesday in Richmond.

The Colonels, the Northwest Region champions, boast Northwest Region Player of the Year Troy Daniels. Daniels, a 6 foot 4 senior guard who, according to virginiapreps.com, has college offers from the likes of Gonzaga, Cincinnati and Marquette, will probably go toe-to-toe with Eastern Region Player of the Year, and 6 foot 4 senior guard, Jaquon Parker. Daniels scored 21 points against John Marshall.

Three more seniors, guards Stephon Anderson and Shaquan Manning and 6 foot 3 forward Eric Thomas, make up most of the rest of the contributions for William Fleming.

The Colonels have scored more than 70 points in only two games this season. Defensively, the Colonels have allowed 47.3 points per game.

William Fleming was 1-2 this season against Patrick Henry, which finished third in the schools’ district and with a 10-14 overall record. The two losses were games with both teams scoring in the low 40s.

The Colonels and Northwest Region runner-up GW-Danville, which the Bulldogs beat with a fourth-quarter rally in the state quarters, met five times this season. William Fleming won four of the five contests, with the highest-scoring game of the five being a 57-50 Colonel win on Jan. 6.