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Bulldogs go to 14-0 with surprising spark

King’s Fork’s boys basketball team had five players score in double figures Friday night and it needed each one of them in what was the toughest Southeastern District test of the season, but still a Bulldog victory, against visiting Indian River, 86-77.

For the second consecutive night, KF center Davante Gardner led the Bulldogs with 25 points. King’s Fork owed a lot of its success Friday though to substitute forward Dominique Patterson.

With starting power forward Jay Copeland forced to the bench for much of the game with foul trouble, Patterson filled in superbly with 12 points, nine rebounds and three assists.

More than the stats tell though, the 6-foot-1 Patterson gave KF much-needed energy on the floor when Indian River seemed to be quicker and more aggressive than the Bulldogs through much of the first half.

“He came in in the first half and started getting rebounds and making plays. When it comes to Dominique, it doesn’t take talent to hustle,” said KF head coach Joshua Worrell.

“He was getting all sorts of rebounds for us, and rebounds he has no reason getting versus 6-foot-6 guys. He was a great spark for us. For most teams, he’d be a starter. For our team, he could be a starter, but he understands how valuable he can be coming off the bench,” Worrell said.

Indian River was clearly ready to take on the first-place Bulldogs. Playing a fast-paced, quick-shooting game, the Braves raced out to a 19-10 lead in the first five minutes.

With 6-foot-7 Juandrico Walker and 6-foot-8 Joseph Hassell, the Braves come the closest of any district team to matching King’s Fork’s size. With Walker hitting a pair of threes in the first period and Hassell making long jumpers and driving from the perimeter to the basket, the Braves used their size, but with a different style.

Dion Bivens sparked KF late in the period and wound up with nine points in the quarter, but IR led 25-22 after a quarter. Hassell had 10 points in the first period.

King’s Fork continued cutting into the lead and a pair of free throws by Alvin Daughtrey made it 28-28 with 4:41 left in the half. Indian River answered with four straight points though.

The Braves came close to taking the lead into the half before Patterson took over. Patterson capped a 7-0 KF run with a bucket off an offensive rebound, then a deep three-pointer with 0:03 left to give KF a 41-38 lead. It was KF’s first lead since having a 1-0 lead.

The halftime break didn’t stop Patterson or KF’s momentum. A couple minutes into the third period, Patterson chased down a defensive rebound, knocked an Indian River player to the floor while corralling the bouncing ball, then sent a long pass to Derek Wright for a lay-up that put KF up 45-40.

Indian River head coach Chavez Mabry had been on the officials since the second period to call Patterson for a foul in rebounding situations. That play sparked the argument again and Mabry was hit with a technical foul.

From the technical foul, Gardner made two free throws and Patterson scored in the paint making it, in effect, a six-point play for KF and a 49-40 lead. The Bulldogs kept going to a 53-40 lead.

Indian River cut the lead to six twice, the latest being three minutes into the fourth quarter. Copeland gave KF some cushion with 4-for-4 shooting at the foul line and a breakaway dunk.

KF led 84-71 with the clock going under 90 seconds to play, but the Braves scored six quick points and KF led 84-77 with 1:08 left.

King’s Fork got back-to-back defensive stops, then with an 85-77 lead, the Bulldogs played keep-away and ran 0:25 off the clock before IR was able to foul, but it was too late with 0:14 remaining.

Gardner finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds. Hassell led Indian River with 22 points.

Wright made school history with the first triple-double in KF’s six seasons of basketball. Wright had 10 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. Bivens scored 19 points. Copeland added 10 points.

“Players make plays …we were just able to make a few more than they did. (Indian River) has a great team, they shoot the ball well and they can play with anybody,” said Worrell.

King’s Fork and the rest of the district is now off for a week for exam period. The Bulldogs host Western Branch on Friday at 7:30 p.m.