King’s Fork prevails in VaPreps Classic

Published 8:49 pm Monday, January 13, 2020

By Matthew Hatfield


There’s no rest for the weary, particularly those in basketball circles during the month of January. With a lineup full of next-level prospects, King’s Fork’s boys’ basketball team scheduled an ambitious out-of-district schedule for the 2019-2020 campaign and continued that tour on Saturday during the 12th Annual Basketball Classic at Green Run High School in Virginia Beach.

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Facing the host Stallions — who came in at 11-1 overall and ranked No. 3 in the state in Class 5 — the Bulldogs had another stiff challenge in front of yet another sellout crowd, something to which they’ve become accustomed in recent weeks. Unlike the previous Saturday when they saw a 14-point lead evaporate in a heart-breaking loss to Norview, this time they managed to hang on after watching their large advantage shrink.

King’s Fork hit all eight of their free-throws in the final 54 seconds to pull out an important 70-64 victory, upping their overall record to 10-1.

“We try to be one point better,” said Bulldogs Coach Rick Hite. “Kenny Harris does a great job with his kids at Green Run. I watched them fight. At the end of the day, we scheduled them. It was just two teams trying to win a tough game in a great environment, great event and we were able to do that, so I’m pleased.”

Minus starting center Bravion Campbell, the Bulldogs leaned heavily in the front-court on 6-foot-5-inch junior forward Quentin Livingston, who earned game MVP honors with 21 points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.

“With Bravion gone, Coach (Hite) said somebody had to step up to the plate and get rebounds,” said Livingston, who converted 10-of-13 free-throws. “I said, ‘I’ll take the responsibility Coach.’ They thought they were going to bully me around, so I stood straight up, took charges and felt good about the game.”

Hite was glad to see Livingston answer the call against a Green Run squad featuring a pair of Division I football offers around the hoop. Most comforting was the fact his team out-rebounded the Stallions 47-38 for the night.

“I was comfortable with Ryan (Hite) going back in the lineup because of the nine previous games we won, he started,” Hite said. “(Livingston)’s been averaging a double-double on the year, and (I) thought he did a wonderful job of competing against some really tough, physical kids.”

King’s Fork blitzed Green Run out of the gate, building an 18-5 lead after one quarter. They shot 40 percent from the field compared to a mere 18.3 percent for the Stallions. In fact, the margin swelled to 21 points late in the second period as the Bulldogs played smothering team defense that Hite described as perhaps the best they’ve displayed for a half all season.

The Bulldogs also connected on their opportunities behind the three-point arc, with a trio of 3’s from star sophomore guard Jayden Epps along with makes by Livingston, Tyler Chatman, Tevion Davis-McCray and Mikel Miller. King’s Fork was 7-of-15 from three-point land, whereas Green Run was ice cold — 0-for-8 — before heating up in the final quarter.

In the fourth quarter, Green Run scored 30 points, with half of them coming in the final 1:58. They pulled within four points. That’s when Livingston and Epps, who led all scorers with 26 points, put the game away at the free-throw line.

“It was a good game. We kind of messed up at the end letting them come back, but we pulled it together and got the win,” Epps said. “It was hard on us taking that L. We had to learn from our mistakes, close out games and we’ll get wins.”

This marked the third consecutive game King’s Fork scored exactly 70 points, and it was the fifth contest they’ve played decided by six points or less. Four of them have been wins.

“It’s a grind,” Hite said. “I thought we had a chance to get the Norview game, didn’t, but learned a lot. Compete all four quarters. When a really good basketball team makes a run at you, don’t fold. Try to make the right basketball play and more importantly, keep getting stops. We were able to use it tonight to get out of here with a great victory.”