Bulldogs rally for huge district win

Published 11:04 am Friday, February 5, 2010

It must be getting late in the basketball season because King’s Fork’s boys basketball squad regained its knack for big second-half comebacks Thursday night, coming back from 17 points down and 13 points down at halftime for a 58-53 win at Great Bridge.

The host Wildcats would’ve tied the Bulldogs atop the district with a victory and the Great Bridge players and fans certainly knew it.

With standing ovations spurring on the Wildcats seemingly with each good play, just the steals and fast-break baskets by the Wildcats were enough to outscore King’s Fork in the first half.

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Reminiscent of Bulldog wins over G.W.-Danville and William Fleming in last year’s state tournament, a double-digit lead wasn’t safe against King’s Fork. With two games left in the regular season, the Bulldogs (18-2, 16-0) have a two-game lead over the Wildcats for the Southeastern District title and the one automatic berth into the regional tournament.

Great Bridge’s outstanding and super-quick guard, Briante Weber, had 15 points and five steals, with all five of his steals leading right into breakaway dunks or lay-ups, in the first half. The Wildcats led 15-7 after a quarter, 25-11 three minutes into the second period and by as much as 32-15 just before the half.

Derek Wright drained a three-pointer at the horn of the half to bring KF within 33-20 at the break, but Great Bridge had still dominated the first 16 minutes.

Weber made six field goals in the half. The Bulldogs had five made field goals in all and 12 turnovers.

“I told them ‘It’s easy to believe in what we want to do when everything’s going well. What about when we’re facing adversity, though?’” said KF head coach Joshua Worrell about his halftime talk.

KF’s 6-foot-8 senior center, Davante Gardner, was KF’s only steady source of offense in the first half. Gardner had 11 points and six boards in the half and picked his game up even more from there.

The Bulldogs worked the ball inside throughout the second half. The Bulldogs got right back into the game with an 8-0 run to start the third period. Jay Copeland scored off an offensive rebound. Dominique Patterson drove straight down the paint for a basket and Gardner cut down the lane, received a pass and tossed in a one-handed bank shot. Gardner’s hoops made it 33-28 Wildcats.

Gardner even traded three-pointers with Weber in the final seconds of the third period. Gardner hit treys from the left wing on KF’s last two possessions of the quarter.

Great Bridge led 45-38 going to the fourth period and 48-38 after Weber hit his fourth three-pointer of the night.

Gardner scored off a spin move into the paint, then assisted Copeland on a high-low play to make it 48-46 GB.

Patterson, usually not a leading scorer for the Bulldogs, turned in two huge baskets to keep KF’s run going. Patterson drove down court, drove along the baseline and flipped in a tough left-handed lay-up to tie the score. After another defensive stop by KF, Patterson tipped in a rebound to put KF up 50-48 and make it a 12-0 KF run.

KF held the lead, barely, from there. It was largely thanks to the soft free-throw shooting by Gardner. While most squads look to guards to be the best guy at the line late in a close game, the Bulldogs get the ball to Gardner. Gardner was 4-for-4 at the line in the last 1:50. A pair of Gardner’s shots made it 56-50 KF with 0:40 left. The Bulldogs won the fourth period 20-8.

Gardner finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. Copeland added 10 points and 11 rebounds. Wright and Patterson had eight points each. Weber led Great Bridge with 25 points and seven steals.

King’s Fork hosted Deep Creek Friday evening and will close the regular season Monday at Lakeland at 7:30 p.m.