Pike County brings it back to Brundidge

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 16, 2000

Sports Editor

DALEVILLE ­ Either Pike County Bulldogs head coach David Buehler is psychic or he knew something about his team that no one else did Monday night.

As his team ran through their pregame warmups the coach said that this one was in the bank. Come to find out, he was dead right. Four quarters and a 60-52 win over the Daleville Warhawks later and the Bulldogs are Class 4A Area 3 Champions and are given the right to host in their upcoming Sub-Regional on Friday.

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It was the third meeting between the two teams this year, with Daleville taking the first two regular-season contests. Buehler said that had a lot to do with his players motivation, but most of all this team was just plain ready to play Monday night.

"We were ready," Buehler said afterwards. "That was the hardest I’ve ever seen them play. People that watched us tonight and doubted us, I think they became believers. We made a lot of mistakes, but never gave up. I couldn’t be more proud of this team."

Pike County guard Tobias Johnson picked up the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player award for his role in the Bulldog’s win over Dale County and upset over the No. 1 seeded Warhawks. He echoed Buehler’s sentiment.

"I haven’t ever seen this team so hungry," Johnson said. "It’s like we hadn’t been fed in a couple of days or something. When the dogs are hungry they’re going to eat, that’s the way we feel about it.

"Our team was struggling early in the year, but I felt like if we put it all together and became one instead of individuals that we could go anywhere," he continued. "I can’t say that I didn’t think we would be here, but lets just say I was skeptical."

"What made me so proud, in the middle of the season we would have lost this game," Buehler said. "We would have given up five points in the last 30 seconds and lost. Tonight we didn’t and that means we’re getting better. If you saw this team the first time they played and then saw them tonight, you can’t tell me they didn’t improve and that makes me proudest."

The Bulldogs had built up a 26-17 lead late in the second quarter on a 11-2 run sparked in the most part by junior Eric Gosha off the Pike County bench. Gosha, in replacement of starter Sam Diggs who picked up three early fouls, teamed up with sophomore Michael Walker down low gobbling up offensive rebounds by the arm load. Gosha then helped out on the offensive end as well hitting three mid-range jumpers during the Bulldog’s run.

Daleville didn’t back down, howeve. With a shot and a foul just at the buzzer the Warhawks completed the old-fashion 3-point play to close it to a 26-20 halftime lead for Pike County.

In the third the Bulldogs gave up ground, but fought back in the end. Daleville went on an 11-2 run of their own to start the half, but PCHS tied things up on a couple of Walker free throws to make it 37-37 going into the final period.

With 3:08 to go in the game the Bulldogs had erased an early four-point lead in the fourth and on a floater by Torrie Brown, took the lead for good. Gosha followed with another short jumper then the game turned into a free throw exhibition.

In the final minute both teams combined for 10 trips to the foul line with the Bulldogs doing their job hitting 9-of-12 down the stretch to seal the win.

"I can’t say it was really one person because it was a total team effort," Buehler said "If you really watched it you’d have to say the same. One person step in then another, everybody stepped up and you see what happens when we play like that."

The stats don’t lie, and they say the same. With four Bulldogs scoring in double figures and two others scoring more than seven, Walker led the charge with 15 points, Johnson and Gosha each notched 11 and Brown had 10. For their trouble, Gosha, Brown and Walker each were named along with MVP Johnson to the All-Tournament team.