Bulldogs handle Huguenot

Published 9:29 pm Tuesday, January 21, 2020

By Matthew Hatfield


Hosting the Battle Lines II Invitational last Saturday, King’s Fork High’s Bulldogs had to wait to play in the nightcap of an event for a third consecutive weekend. The Bulldogs wasted no time establishing their dominance over Class 4 foe Huguenot, which came in at 11-2 overall.

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King’s Fork used a 24-4 burst in the first quarter to take command and ended up going on to win, 82-69.

“We wanted to come out with a lot of energy. It was a long day, and you’ve got to sit around for a large portion of the day for those games that start so late,” said King’s Fork Coach Rick Hite. “I was really focused on us coming out early ready to go, and I thought we did that well.”

In that opening quarter, King’s Fork connected on 5-of-8 three-point shots with two makes apiece from sophomore point guard Jayden Epps and shooting guard Tyler Chatman. Epps finished with a game-high 28 points for the second night in a row while also tallying 10 rebounds and five assists.

It was more of the same for King’s Fork in the second period as they extended their lead 29 points before a Huguenot basket at the buzzer cut the deficit to 51-24. Seven Bulldogs scored, and eight players registered a rebound in the half.

“We do have what we call spurt-ability, guys that can score the basketball in bunches. We really feed off of that,” Hite said. “But then there are other times where we hit a lull in games, where we’re trying to do too much on our own or are a step slow. It equates in some ways to bad basketball, but I have to remind myself all the time our guys are so young.

“Every day I feel like we’re working to get better. It happens where we can score 30 in a quarter or 13 out of nowhere.”

Huguenot scored the first seven points of the third quarter, prompting Hite to call a time-out. They trimmed the lead to 18 points — 68-50 — by the end of the stanza.

“We’re talented, but it’s youth. We lose focus because sometimes it does come a little easy to us. Sometimes we lose sight of what we did to get the lead or have those explosive quarters,” Hite stated.

“This game here was one of two styles of play. We’ve done that in the past, too. We’re definitely better when we’re on the attack than when we are in watch and wait mode. Another thing is we’re throwing some different lineup combinations out there to get some guys more experience. The personnel can be different at times, and when we have those kinds of leads, it allows us those opportunities.”

As King’s Fork further emptied out its bench, Huguenot was able to shrink the lead even more. The Bulldogs missed their first seven shots of the fourth period until junior reserve Mikel Miller scored with 2:55 to play to give them a sigh of relief.

“In the long run, I think it’ll be better for us getting more guys involved,” Hite believes. “In the last few games, we’ve had 12, 13 or 14 players all score buckets. Most all of them are young. It takes a little bit of time to get that chemistry when we throw some different combinations out there.”

The Bulldogs shot 11-of-26 from three-point range and had a 50-32 rebounding advantage. Junior forward Quentin Livingston finished 16 points and eight rebounds.

At 13-1 overall, King’s Fork will host Hickory on Friday then close out the month at Oscar Smith on Jan. 31.

“We front-loaded the schedule with some heavy hitters. Now we hit the portion where we can really prepare for teams along the way,” Hite explained.

“When you have three games in a week, it’s hard to prepare for just one specific team. I think when you get ready for playoff basketball, you want to give yourself a day or two that you have to prepare for the next couple of potential opponents. We’re taking that approach along with what we need to clean up as a whole, both offensively and defensively.”