Bulldogs three-peat

Published 11:54 pm Friday, February 19, 2010

Behind Davante Gardner’s huge double-double of 31 points and 15 rebounds, King’s Fork won its third straight Southeastern District Tournament championship and 48th straight game, regular season or postseason, over Southeastern District opponents, 67-56 over Indian River Friday night in The Kennel.

The Braves came out with all sorts of energy and the first half was a physical, fast-paced contest. After halftime, the Bulldogs stretched a six-point lead into double figures for more of the last 11 minutes of play.

In the end, defense and foul shooting paved the way for the Bulldogs and Gardner, KF’s center, led the way at the line as well. Gardner drained 15-of-16 foul shots on the night as the Bulldogs went 33-of-40 (82.5 percent) as a team.

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“Every time we play (Indian River) it’s a rivalry, just as much as a Suffolk rivalry,” said KF head coach Joshua Worrell.

The intensity was obvious from the outset and the Braves played at their pace, fast and frantic, for the first few minutes.

It took the Bulldog bench to provide an early spark and change the momentum around. A basket in the paint by Dominique Patterson drew KF to a 9-9 tie. Fred Scott hit a three on KF’s next possession to give the Bulldogs the lead. One of Gardner’s many baskets in the paint took KF’s lead to 14-9.

The Braves rallied with nine points in the last 0:38 of the first quarter and led 18-17 after a period.

The game looked to be just as close heading into the half before Gardner scored five points in the last minute of play, including a three-point play, and the Bulldogs led 34-28 at halftime. The Bulldogs made all 14 foul shots in the half. Gardner had 14 points in the half.

The Bulldogs kept going into the paint with Gardner to open the third period. With two baskets from short range and two more free throws, Gardner scored KF’s first six points of the period.

Gardner finished a lay-up after a drive and dish by Derek Wright, making KF’s lead 45-35 with 3:14 left in the third period. KF’s 6-foot-8 senior scored 11 of KF’s 17 points in the period and the Bulldogs led 51-42 with eight minutes left.

After having success early on with their slashing drives and quickness, the Braves relied more and more on outside shooting as the game, and KF’s defense, wore on them. In the third period, Indian River took nine three-point shots and five shots from inside the arc.

“Even in the second half we gave up too many second shot chances,” Worrell said. “They probably scored half their points in the first half off second and third chances, so we had to limit that. We also did a good job contesting their shots in the second half.”

“We had guys step up and do what they’re asked to do on defense and do a better job taking care of the ball,” Worrell said.

A lay-up by Scott pushed KF’s lead to 12, 57-45, three minutes into the fourth period. After a couple empty trips by the Braves, Gardner scored in the paint. Two free throws by Bivens pushed KF’s lead to 61-45 with 3:01 left.

Jay Copeland, Bivens and Gardner were named to the All-Tournament Team with Gardner earning the tournament MVP award.

Bivens finished with 14 points and three steals. Scott scored seven points. Wright scored only three points, but added nine rebounds and four assists.

“We kept telling them with each timeout in the fourth quarter, “history” and you guys can do it, but you have to continue to play hard,” Worrell said.

King’s Fork (23-2) is a No. 1 seed in the Eastern Region Tournament. The Bulldogs host Ocean Lakes in a first round game Monday at 8 p.m. The quarterfinals, semifinals and regional final will be held at Norfolk Scope.