Wildcats scratch Bulldogs

Published 9:23 pm Wednesday, December 5, 2012

By Matthew Hatfield

The Kennel was the site on Tuesday night for a back-and-forth Southeastern District tussle between the host King’s Fork Bulldogs and Great Bridge Wildcats, the team that won the regular-season district title last season.

There were nine lead changes in the first half and neither team led by more than two possessions or six points until the final minute of regulation, when Great Bridge gained some breathing room at the free-throw line for a 56-49 victory over the Bulldogs.

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For King’s Fork, it is their third consecutive loss after winning the season opener by 21 over Deep Creek. Coach Josh Worrell didn’t like the outcome, but sees progress being made and that type of improvement should result in wins down the road.

“Great Bridge out-executed us there at the end, and it was really one shot here or there that could’ve put us up one or two that we just didn’t knock down,” he said. “We can’t be upset with our kids’ effort tonight. I believe it’s the best effort we’ve given all season, and I told the kids if we give that effort every night we’d be 3-1 right now, instead of 1-3.”

“At the end of the night, Great Bridge probably beat us by two plays, and those two plays make the difference in the ballgame,” he added.

King’s Fork started off strong with senior guard Rod Parrett drilling a pair of rainbow three-pointers to stake the Bulldogs out to a 6-5 lead. Turnovers were a bit of a problem for King’s Fork in the opening period as they committed six, yet still took a 15-13 lead into the second quarter behind spirited play on the defensive end of the floor. That intensity on defense would continue much of the night for King’s Fork in limiting Great Bridge to just 2-for-14 shooting from three-point distance, including 0-for-7 in the second half.

In the second period, turnovers swung in favor of the Bulldogs, who committed only two compared to seven by the Wildcats. Trailing by a point, King’s Fork got a crucial three-pointer at the buzzer before the half from senior guard Jacorey Smith to seize momentum and the lead, 32-30.

However, in the third quarter, it would be Great Bridge that closed on a flurry, outscoring the Bulldogs 6-0 the final 1:57 to claim a 44-42 advantage. While there were several lead changes and ties throughout the evening, Great Bridge never trailed over the final eight minutes, converting 89 percent (16 of 18) of their free-throws to ice things.

Parrett led the way with 17 points on 7-of-18 shooting from the field. Smith chipped in 10 points and four steals. Byron Taylor filled the stat sheet and provided great hustle with 12 rebounds, four assists and four blocked shots.

“As I told them, now I’ve got you believing. How long are you going to believe in me? I don’t want to make comparisons because each team is different, but those of you who were with us last year, we started the same way at 1-3,” Worrell said.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier for King’s Fork. The Bulldogs have a pivotal matchup going into Friday night at Western Branch, which is currently 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the district.