Bulldogs outplay visiting Cavs

Published 11:49 pm Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Lakeland freshman forward Deonta Knight looks for a shot against King's Fork senior forward Wallace McDowney during Tuesday night's contest. The host Bulldogs won 54-44.

The King’s Fork High School boys’ basketball team capped of its regular season on Tuesday night with its fifth win of the last seven days, defeating the visiting Lakeland Cavaliers 54-44.

The first thing Bulldogs head coach Josh Worrell expressed after the game was relief.

“I’m glad this five-games-in-seven-days is over,” he said. “It’s a rough stretch for the kids, rough stretch for the coaching staff. I’m just mentally drained.”

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Four games had been scheduled between Jan. 29 and Feb. 5, including back-to-back games last Thursday and Friday. The snow day on Jan. 25 moved that day’s game to Monday, giving King’s Fork another set of back-to-back match-ups.

Tuesday’s contest appeared to be anyone’s game, with the Bulldogs leading 15-12 after the first, but the Cavaliers tied it up by halftime. The home team began to establish some separation in the second half, however.

“It slipped away from us,” Lakeland freshman forward Deonta Knight said. “We had the game, for real. Halftime was 22-22. Momentum changed.”

Cavs head coach Clint Wright felt some of the Bulldogs’ elder players changed the course of play.

“I do feel that they had some senior leadership that stepped it up,” he said. “They made some big plays, they made some big steals in the third quarter that I thought actually broke the ice, so to speak.”

Worrell, who likes to analyze games by quarter, has made it clear to his players that they must outscore their opponents in at least three quarters if they plan to win.

“I told them at halftime, I said, ‘We won the first, lost the second quarter. Here we go. What are we going to do?’” he recalled. “So we won the third quarter by five, won the fourth quarter by five.”

It was a matter of improved defensive execution on the perimeter and near the hoop, he explained.

“The guard play did exactly what we needed to do,” he said. “Big guys started being a little more effective defensively, keeping it off the glass, but (Lakeland is) a tough match-up for us. They’re just going to be a tough game, no matter what.”

Senior guard Jacorey Smith had 15 points, five rebounds, five steals and four assists. Fellow senior guard Rod Parrett posted 10 points, six boards and three steals. Senior forwards Byron Taylor and Wallace McDowney each scored seven points and had 10 and nine rebounds, respectively. Taylor added four steals.

“My hats off to King’s Fork,” Wright said. “Probably one of the scrappier type of defenses that we will play against.”

Still, Lakeland made it seem easy, at times, to score by getting the ball inside to either Knight (13 points) or fellow freshman forward Jaquan Yulee (12 points).

“I just wonder, why can’t we make that a habit?” Wright said.

Wright said the easy scoring plays were a result of instinctive basketball that he hopes to cultivate in his team moving forward.

Worrell reflected on his team’s final regular season record of 18-4 and 15-3 in the district.

“I think we should have been 21-1,” he said. “I only think we really should have lost one game (against Norcom).”

However, he said he feels positive about the state of the team entering into the district tournament.

“I’m OK with where we’re at now,” he said.

Lakeland’s season will last one more game with a trip to the postseason on the line.

Schools in the district are allowed to have only 22 scheduled games per regular season. Because Lakeland had racked up seven games in two different tournaments at King’s Fork, its snow-delayed game against Western Branch would have represented a 23rd game.

As a result, Lakeland was forced to forfeit the game rather than rescheduling it, putting the Cavaliers in a tie for the eighth and final playoff spot with Oscar Smith.

The Cavs (8-15, 5-13) will play Oscar Smith on Thursday at King’s Fork High School with the starting time to be determined. The district tournament will begin on Friday and King’s Fork will play at home.