King’s Fork takes state basketball title

Published 12:04 am Saturday, March 14, 2009

RICHMOND – After scoring nine points, yes nine, in the first 18 minutes of the state championship game Friday night, King’s Fork rallied with a huge comeback on the biggest of stages to win the VHSL Boys Basketball State Championship 49-47 over William Fleming.

The Bulldogs outscored William Fleming 40-19 the last 14:02 of play, turning the Siegel Center into a crazy, woofing scene for much of a frantic fourth period.

Jaquon Parker and Jay Copeland led the Bulldogs with 10 points each, but contributions from KF’s usual role players, guys such as Derek Wright, Alvin Daughtrey and Chris Hearn turned the tide more than anything.

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After a first half full of Bulldog turnovers and in which KF made only three field goals, all it took to spark King’s Fork was making a couple baskets.

Wright and Wertz canned threes, with Wright’s hoop bringing KF within 29-17 with 3:50 left in the third period.

As the Bulldogs chipped back into the game, the KF offense became more reliant on Parker driving the ball into the lane and aggressively making something happen.

In the last 30 seconds of the quarter, KF got a steal and a short jumper by Jamar Wertz, then a steal by Daughtrey leading to a lay-up Hearn just before the horn, making it 33-25 WF heading to the fourth period.

“On the bench, I was telling Stephen (Riddick) and Chris (Hearn), ‘if we got this under 10 going to the fourth quarter we’ll be fine.’, said KF head coach Joshua Worrell.

On the final play of the period, Hearn had his jersey torn nearly off, and had to change his No. 10 shirt to a No. 2 jersey. Rar-kesh Harris, the point guard for the Bulldogs through the last three seasons before suffering a season-ending injury early this season, wore No. 2.

Whether inspired, or just coincidence, Hearn and his new number got a tip-in basket, then a basket driving the baseline to bring the Bulldogs within 33-29 in the first minute of the fourth quarter.

“We keep that jersey with us to let Rar-kesh know he’s with us still. He does a lot to motivate the guys,” said Worrell.

With the lead cut from 19 down to four, the crowd noise picked up from all the Bulldog faithful and the intensity from KF’s defense picked up.

A breakaway lay-up by Daughtrey gave KF’s its first lead of the night, 37-36, with 4:28 remaining.

The Colonels moved back in front momentarily, but a left-corner three-pointer by Wright put KF ahead 41-38 with 3:27 left and delivered the loudest yelling of the night by the KF fans. Wright’s nine points came on three second-half three-pointers.

“I just thank the coach for giving me the green light. I never got down on myself during the first half. I just had to keep shooting and I knew it’ll fall,” said Wright.

A deep three-pointer by WF’s Troy Daniels made it 43-43 with 2:11 left. On the ensuing Bulldog possession, KF held the ball for more than a minute.

After a timeout, Parker dribbled to the left wing, then found Wright coming off a screen out to the top of the key. Wright drained the trey from there to give the Bulldogs the lead, 46-43, which they held for good.

The Colonels’ Stephon Anderson missed a three and got his own rebound, then after a WF timeout with 0:19 left, a three attempt by Daniels was off. The carom went out of bounds with 8.9 seconds left.

Davante Gardner, who Worrell said was suffering from a bad headache, and was on the bench for much of the second half, came in and got the ball to go to the line. With 8.1 seconds left, Gardner made 1 of 2 to make it a two-possession game.

After a Colonel free throw, Wertz made two at the line to put KF up 49-44. The Colonels made a three-pointer with a second left.

Earlier in the game, the Colonels were dominating in getting out to a 16-6 lead after one period and a 22-7 lead with 5:40 remaining in the half.

The Bulldogs held the Colonels to two points in the last 5:40, or else the halftime deficit could’ve been completely out of hand.

“They outworked us in the first half…they were beating us in every facet of the game,” said Worrell.

In the locker room at the half, there was a special, and apparently needed, guest. An assistant coach from the Princess Anne girls team, which was just victorious in the Group AAA girls final, woke up the Bulldog players before Worrell and the KF coaches came in.

“She was saying something to everybody,” said Parker, “then we just paused and said, ‘she’s right.’”

“All the guys on the team rally around my energy,” said Parker. “I had to take it upon myself to get my guys going.”

In the first half, KF was 3 of 19 from the floor and committed 10 turnovers. The Bulldogs committed nine turnovers for the game in their semifinal win over Petersburg.

In the second half, KF committed one turnover and made 10 of 18 shots from the field and 14 of 21 at the foul line.

The Bulldogs (31-1) win the first state basketball title for a Suffolk school since Nansemond River in Group AA in 1995.