Bulldogs win summer league title

Published 11:15 pm Friday, July 17, 2009

After winning a state championship in March, of course there wouldn’t be the same exhilaration on Thursday night as King’s Fork defeated Hampton and Norcom to win the King’s Fork Summer Basketball League.

For the record though, King’s Fork assistant coach Theotis Porter said, “it’s the first time we’ve won this.” And more importantly than claiming the trophy at the end of the night was maybe how the Bulldogs did so and what that could lead to starting in November.

Returning veterans from the state title team, most notably KF’s main post players, Jay Copeland and Davante Gardner, carried a good deal of the load. In the final, a 78-60 win over Norcom, Copeland had 24 points and 14 rebounds while Gardner totaled 21 points and 10 boards.

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Along with the Bulldogs who’ve been there before, plenty of new varsity Bulldogs stepped up, too.

At point guard for much of the two games, Nykee White finished with 13 points in the final game. White hit three three-pointers within a two-minute span during the second half versus Norcom, playing a big role as the Bulldogs turned a close contest into an easy victory.

In KF’s semifinal game, a 50-48 win against Hampton, the Bulldogs seemingly never found a good offensive rhythm.

The Crabbers got out to a 7-2 lead before three-pointers by Fred Scott and Tre Francisco led a run which put KF in front, 10-7.

Quick shots and an inability to feed the ball inside to Copeland and Gardner hurt the Bulldogs, yet KF still led 25-22 at halftime and a three-pointer by White made it 36-30 KF six minutes into the second half.

After White’s basket the ensuing play ended in a Hampton turnover near midcourt and an argument between opposing players. One Crabber and one Bulldog, Francisco, were ejected.

Dion Bivens scored nine of his team-high 10 points in the second half and on a three-pointer by Scott with 3:30 to go, giving KF a 47-37 lead, it looked as though the Bulldogs had done enough to get by Hampton.

The Crabbers thought no such thing as three straight three-pointers brought Hampton within 47-46 with 1:27 left, and after Bivens missed the first free throw of a one-and-one, Hampton made two at the line to go ahead with 1:01 to go.

Alvin Daughtrey got to the line with 0:45 left, but missed the first shot of a one-and-one. Bivens made up for his miss by getting the rebound and scoring while being fouled. Bivens made the three-point play to give KF a 50-48 lead.

Hampton called time out with 31 seconds left, then again with 15 seconds left. Strangely seeming to hold for the final shot, the Crabbers moved the ball around 25-30 feet away from the basket and wound up getting no shot at the basket before the buzzer sounded.

Francisco had nine points for KF. Gardner, White and Scott had eight points each.

The offensive struggles continued early on in the final game. Norcom led 16-5 eight minutes into the game before a combo of veterans and rookies, big and small, got the Bulldogs going in the right direction.

Baskets in the paint from Gardner and Copeland ended what was an 11-0 Norcom run. Then White, only a few seconds after checking into the game for the first time, scored on a jumper then led a break and assisted to Dominique Patterson for a lay-up.

In the last two minutes of the half, a Bivens three-pointer cut the Norcom lead to one and a offensive rebound and one-handed dunk by Copeland put KF up 25-24.

Obviously with some confidence after the jam, and a big blocked shot on the defensive end, Copeland went out to the left corner and drained a three with :04 remaining to give KF a 28-26 halftime lead.

Despite the last 12 minutes of the first half going well for the Bulldogs, the second half remained anyone’s game for the next 10 minutes. A couple of the young Bulldogs came through at key times to take over.

With Norcom down by two, White hit three-pointers on back-to-back KF possessions, giving KF a 49-43 lead with 11:15 to go.

Norcom moved back within three, only for Scott to hit a three and, after holding the Greyhounds on a possession, a Bulldog break ended with White pulling up from 26 feet and raining in a three-pointer.

Two baskets in the paint by Copeland took KF’s lead to 59-48 with 9:08 to go and the Bulldogs led by double digits the rest of the way.

KF wore Norcom down by going consistently to Gardner and Copeland to put the game out of reach. The sparks from White and Scott were needed, but Gardner and Copeland combined for 27 points and 14 rebounds in the second half.

Scott finished with eight points and Patterson chipped in seven points. Daughtrey didn’t score, but totaled 10 assists as KF’s starting point guard.