Bulldogs are too big for NR

Published 4:05 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nansemond River’s basketball squad doesn’t have anyone within four inches and around 40 pounds of King’s Fork’s two senior post players, Jay Copeland and Davante Gardner.

Despite playing well in spurts and making 8-of-12 three-pointers on the night, the Warriors weren’t a serious threat to the defending state champions. The Bulldogs outrebounded NR 43-17, with Copeland’s 18 boards leading the way, and came away with a 78-67 victory.

The win makes King’s Fork 4-0 in the Southeastern District, and despite a win in a city rival’s gym, King’s Fork head coach Joshua Worrell wasn’t pleased with his team’s overall performance on Tuesday night.

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Worrell’s concerns were mainly on the defensive end. The Bulldogs blitzed the Warriors in the first and third periods, but didn’t keep up the same intensity once they built big leads, said Worrell.

“It doesn’t make sense how we can give up nine points in one quarter, then we give up 22 points in the next quarter,” said Worrell.

“It’s a lack of focus. It’s about our guys not understanding how to finish a basketball game,” Worrell said.

KF broke out to a 20-5 lead in the first seven minutes of action, scoring from inside and outside.

Dion Bivens, who transferred from Nansemond River to King’s Fork this past summer, hit a three-pointer to open the scoring. Alvin Daughtrey’s second three-pointer of the early going made it 14-5 KF.

With KF up 18-5, the Warriors were whistled for their third moving-screen foul of the quarter and NR head coach Ed Young picked up a technical foul, forcing Young to remain seated during play for the rest of the contest. Gardner, KF’s 6-foot-8 center, made both foul shots from the technical foul, putting KF up 20-5. KF led 20-9 at the end of the period.

Brian Clarke, who wound up with a game-high 29 points for the Warriors, led his side back with five points in the first 0:25 of the second quarter. Clarke showed his speed driving to the basket and long-range shooting as he drained four three-pointers in the second half.

KF’s power inside kept the Warriors at bay though. A reverse lay-up by Gardner that turned into a three-point play put KF up 30-15 with five minutes left in the half. Copeland had 12 points and Gardner had 11 points in the first half and KF led 41-31.

KF’s defense showed up again coming out of the locker room. The Bulldogs, powered largely by a full-court press, blanked the Warriors for the first 2:45 of the period and stretched their lead to 48-31.

A smooth 2-on-1 break, with KF’s Bivens and Dominique Patterson not allowing the ball to touch the floor for the last 40 feet of the break, and ending with a lay-in by Bivens, made it 53-33.

On the next KF possession, Gardner got the ball on the left block, spun into the middle of the lane and threw down a right-handed dunk. KF’s lead became as large as 58-33 and the Bulldogs led 64-44 going to the fourth period.

KF’s advantage remained around 20 for most of the period. The Warriors rallied in the last couple minutes. Ashton Moore rained in a pair of long three-pointers, about 0:15 apart, to bring the Warriors within 76-65 with 0:53 left. NR outscored KF 23-14 in the fourth quarter.

“It sinks in for awhile, but the last nine minutes of the game, there was no defense played by King’s Fork. It didn’t matter who I put in,” said Worrell.

Gardner led the Bulldogs with 21 points and nine rebounds. Copeland totaled 20 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks. Bivens had 18 points, three rebounds and three steals. Patterson, off the bench, had seven points, five assists and four rebounds. NR forced the Bulldogs into 25 turnovers.

Clarke had five assists to go with his 29 points. Moore added 16 points and five assists.

Nansemond River (2-2, 2-2) plays at Indian River on Friday evening.

The Bulldogs play at Indian River Thursday at 6:45 p.m. KF goes to Western Branch on Friday evening.