King’s Fork pulls away from Smith late

Published 10:40 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fast break: King’s Fork’s Chris Parker leads a Bulldog fast break against Oscar Smith Tuesday night. King’s Fork pulled away from Oscar Smith late in the game for a 61-51 district victory.

Any basketball contest between Nansemond River and King’s Fork is going to be big, no matter what the records are or what’s at stake.

Thursday night’s contest at Nansemond River will be everything the rivalry always is plus it’ll be between the top two boys’ hoops teams in the Southeastern District standings.

King’s Fork (12-3, 9-2) held up its half of the deal, remaining in second place, with a 61-51 win over visiting Oscar Smith Tuesday night in The Kennel.

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Forward Fred Scott led the Bulldogs with 17 points. Center Zach Johnson scored 13 of his 15 points and collected eight of his 12 rebounds in the second half.

Down the stretch though, it was better defense that allowed the Bulldogs to pull away from what was a back and forth game most of the way.

For much of the first three periods, the Tigers, always with three or four guards on the court, ran a cutting, weaving, driving offense for plenty of open shots.

“In the second half, we adjusted our defense. We had to stop their dribble-drive penetration,” said King’s Fork head coach Joshua Worrell.

“We rotated or changed our defense throughout the second half. That bothered (Oscar Smith) a little at least. At least it made them stop and think a little every time down the floor,” Worrell said.

It worked well enough to change a tied game with eight minutes to play into the Bulldogs leading the whole fourth period and pulling away in the last couple minutes.

Neither side led by more than five points in the opening half; a 25-20 Tiger lead with just under three minutes to play in the half.

Both teams hit from long range in the early part. Tre Francisco and C.J. Hailes hit three-pointers in KF’s first three hoops of the night. The Tigers were patient and effective.

Scott hit a three-pointer to bring KF within 25-23 with 2:15 to go in the half. Still upset about his team’s defense on the previous Tiger possession, Worrell called a timeout as Scott’s shot went in.

KF held the Tigers on the ensuing trip and another Francisco three put the Bulldogs ahead. KF took a 28-27 edge into the locker room.

Mostly from work on the offensive board, Johnson scored seven of KF’s first nine points in the third period. His third hoop in the paint made it 37-31 KF.

Oscar Smith surged back and freshman Breon Britt’s three-pointer made it 37-37. Seconds later, Britt got a steal and was fouled on a break to the basket. He made both at the line for a 39-37 Tiger lead with 1:13 left in the period.

“All of their guards are very good, especially No. 12 (Britt). We had a tough time staying in front of them. It was really bothering me,” Worrell said.

Johnson scored twice in the post on KF’s first two possessions of the fourth period for a 43-39 Bulldog lead. It wasn’t easy by any stretch, but KF led the rest of the way.

Scott made a 17-foot jumper along the baseline, followed by Hailes hitting from beyond the arc to stretch KF’s lead to 51-44.

The Tigers cut the margin down to four. A 6-2 KF spurt, capped by Jaylen White’s tip-in hoop as he cut in from the left wing for the rebound, made it 57-49 with 2:20 and counting. The Bulldogs did enough at the line and the Tigers finally went cold with their outside shooting in the last couple minutes.

Francisco led the Bulldog guards with 11 points, six assists and six rebounds. White and Hailes added six points each.

Oscar Smith came into Tuesday’s game with six straight district wins and off a 49-46 loss to Kellam, the No. 5-ranked team in the state Associated Press Poll this week.

Worrell said he was being asked about Thursday’s cross-city game all day Tuesday.

“Everyone was asking me, ‘Are you guys going to beat Nansemond?’ And I was saying, ‘Oscar Smith’s really good. We have to beat Oscar Smith first,’” Worrell said.

Nansemond River (12-1, 9-1) won 75-69 at King’s Fork on Dec. 14.

“We have to go into Nansemond River’s gym and play with poise and confidence,” Worrell said.