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Bulldogs beat NR to reach tourney final

For the second straight game in the Southeastern District boys basketball tournament, top-seeded King’s Fork jumped out to a huge lead and led wire-to-wire for a win. Thursday night in the semifinals, it was a 73-54 Bulldog win over city rival Nansemond River.

King’s Fork scored the first 10 points of the game in the opening 4:28. The Bulldogs had an 18-4 lead after one period and led by at least seven points the rest of the game.

Davante Gardner led the Bulldogs with 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Gardner started early on for KF, scoring and creating chances for teammates with offensive rebounding during KF’s opening 10-0 rally.

Back-to-back three-pointers by Fred Scott made KF’s advantage 18-2 late in the first period.

Nansemond River won the second period 18-13, mainly through good long-range shooting by guards Ashton Moore and Brian Clarke. NR got as close as 29-22 late in the half and KF led 31-22 at the break.

With a pair of buckets in the paint by Gardner, followed by a tip-in basket by Jay Copeland, KF stretched its lead to 40-24 three minutes into the second half.

Led by Gardner at 6-foot-8 and Copeland at 6-foot-7, the Bulldog lineup usually featured four players 6-foot-2 or taller while Nansemond River mostly played with three guards and Morris Johnson at 6-foot-2 as the tallest Warrior on the court.

The Warriors edged within 10 a couple times in the second half, but KF put the game out of reach by scoring 25 points in the fourth period.

Gardner passed from the high post to Copeland right at the hoop for a three-point play to put KF up 53-40 with 6:55 left. On the ensuing Warrior possession, a blocked shot by Gardner sparked a break back the other way and Gardner finished on the offensive end with a tip-in basket.

Four Bulldogs finished in double-figure scoring. Copeland had a double-double with 17 points and 12 boards. Dion Bivens had 10 points, four rebounds and three assists. Derek Wright had 10 points, four rebounds and four assists. King’s Fork committed only one turnover in the second half.

For the Warriors, Clarke scored 14 of his 20 points in the second half. Moore finished with 12 points. Johnson had six points and 14 rebounds.

King’s Fork (22-2) plays in the tournament championship Friday night, hosting No. 3-seeded Indian River at 7:45 p.m. The Braves beat No. 2 Great Bridge 46-44, rallying from 12 points down in the fourth quarter and winning with a rebound and lay-up at the horn. King’s Fork is playing for its third straight district tournament title.