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Lady Bulldogs turn up pressure on DC

CHESAPEAKE – King’s Fork girls basketball team turned to its strengths, pressing defense and balanced contributions, when it needed them most Friday evening to gain a key Southeastern District victory, 52-49 at Deep Creek.

Combined with Lakeland’s 57-56 win against Oscar Smith Friday evening, the Lady Bulldogs, Lady Cavs and Deep Creek are in a three-way tie for fourth in the Southeastern District with one game left. Nansemond River, 48-47 winner at Great Bridge Friday, is one game behind those three, but that difference leaves NR in seventh and in position for a first-round SED Tournament game against 15-2 Western Branch.

Deep Creek led the Lady Bulldogs by 11 at halftime and by 34-19 with just over four minutes left in the third period.

“We actually, in the first half, played as bad as we could play and we were only down 11,” said King’s Fork head coach Maurice Fofana.

“We played harder in the second half. When we play harder, our press picks up and is more effective and then we can get lay-ups and offense out of our pressure,” Fofana said.

In a physical, rough contest right from the start, Deep Creek benefited from the game’s style early on. The Lady Hornets forced 11 KF turnovers in the first period and DC led 13-6 after a period.

King’s Fork took better care of the ball in the second period, but finding a good rhythm on offense was still a challenge.

KF’s struggles continued until the last four minutes of the third period when an 11-3 run by KF gave the Lady Bulldogs a good shot going to the fourth period.

Taquandrea Boone and Kiara Branch sparked the run with back-to-back three-pointers. KF trailed 37-30 headed to the fourth period.

KF’s full-court defense found its stride and KF’s rally picked up more steam.

The Lady Bulldogs moved within four on a lay-up by Whitney Nichols off a steal and assist by Branch. KF cut DC’s lead to 39-38 when Chantel Roberts stole the ball in DC’s backcourt and went in for a lay-up.

KF took the lead a few seconds later when Nichols controlled a defensive rebound, drove the length of the court and finished with a lay-up.

Branch made a three-pointer to take KF’s lead to 49-43 and KF’s defense led to another important basket as the clock ticked toward one minute left. Chelsea Robinson’s steal and outlet pass started a KF break. Branch assisted to Nichols for a lay-up, making it 51-46 KF.

The Lady Bulldogs didn’t need to score again. The Lady Hornets scored with 0:02.0 left to make it 51-49. Nichols made 1-of-2 at the foul line with 1.2 seconds left and a half-court shot by DC was a split-second after the horn anyway.

Boone led KF with 11 points. Branch had 10 points and four assists. Renikqua Ricks was the main force in the lane for KF, finishing with nine points and 12 rebounds.

Aside from the scoring leaders, there were plenty of key contributors for KF. Nichols had eight points, five rebounds and three assists. Roberts had seven points and nine boards. Robinson had just three points, but added five rebounds, three steals and three assists, mostly during the second half.

“When we were down, my biggest thing is I want us to focus on one possession at a time,” Fofana said.

King’s Fork (9-11, 8-9) sweeps Deep Creek for the regular season, although a third meeting in the district tourney is a good possibility. KF finishes its regular season Monday by hosting Lakeland (8-9, 8-9).