KFHS wins Christmas tourney

Published 1:59 pm Monday, December 31, 2012

King’s Fork senior small forward Byron Taylor goes for the jump shot against Woodside during the Bulldogs’ 62-58 championship game victory in the Second Annual Bulldog Christmas Tournament on Saturday night at King’s Fork High School. Taylor had eight points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three steals.

The King’s Fork Bulldogs got off to a 1-3 start this season but have since engineered a dazzling turnaround.

In a close game against Woodside on Saturday night, it was defense that saved the Bulldogs in the end. They laid claim to both a seven-game win streak and the second annual Bulldog Christmas Tournament championship with a 62-58 victory at King’s Fork High School.

King’s Fork head coach Josh Worrell listed what he was going to take away from this tourney.

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“The kids are buying into what we want to do,” he said. “That’s the first thing. Second is this is the first thing they’ve ever won, this senior group. And I told them, ‘Don’t let this be the first group that never won anything here at King’s Fork. Now, you’ve got one thing, now there’s some more things that we want to try to accomplish and get. It takes hard work and effort.’ So, hopefully that will continue.”

As far as the game against Woodside itself, Worrell was pleased, if not overwhelmed.

“We played just well enough to win,” he said. “Our defensive intensity wins our ball games. (Woodside) got close — to four or two (points) — and then we got two or three steals in a row with our press.”

Worrell has discussed the idea of winning quarters and how his team has never won a game this season in which it lost two quarters. The third quarter was the first one the Bulldogs dropped against the Wolverines, getting out-scored 16-13.

A steal by Woodside senior Trevor Lyons and his subsequent basket narrowed the Bulldogs’ lead to 42-40 just after the fourth quarter began. It was then that KF’s defense began restoring the lead.

The Wolverines lobbed a pass from one side of the court to the other, and King’s Fork senior guard Rod Parrett intercepted it.

“They were floating it in the air,” he said. “I figured I could get it.”

He assisted senior small forward Byron Taylor at the end of the resulting fast break. Shortly thereafter, Woodside attempted the same pass, and Parrett made them pay again with senior forward Donte Ralph scoring off of the steal to put King’s Fork up 50-40.

Worrell thought his team could have sealed the deal at that point, but it was not able to do so. Taylor found Ralph in the paint twice for clutch scores, but still Woodside stuck around. With 18.7 seconds left, the Wolverines hit a driving layup to make it 60-58.

Parrett was fouled on the next possession and went to the free throw line, where the Bulldogs struggled on Saturday. Parrett’s thought in the moment was pure and simple.

“Got to knock ‘em down,” he said.

He did, and the Bulldogs went 3-0 in the tourney, winning it for the first time after having been defeated by Woodside last year on the second day.

The best measure of King’s Fork’s defensive effort was in points scored: Woodside put up 83 in Thursday’s win against Lakeland and 82 in Friday’s win against Churchland, but only 58 on Saturday.

Taylor ended up with eight points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three steals. Senior guard Akanni White had eight points, five rebounds and five assists, and Parrett concluded with nine points and three steals.

Woodside’s Lyons had 19 points, and freshman Devonte Carter had 17.

Ralph led his team with 15 points.

“They weren’t easy games,” Ralph said. “All of them were hard. You had to come out and fight every night.”

Ralph was named to the all-tournament team, along with senior guard Jacorey Smith, who was named Most Valuable Player of the tourney.

King’s Fork (8-3, 5-2) plays its first game of the new year this Friday at home against Hickory.