Bulldogs fall to Carroll in home-opener

Published 11:43 pm Friday, November 18, 2011

BRUNDIDGE – Pike County High School hosted Carroll of Ozark tonight in basketball action, and the future of the program was plain for all to see. All three teams played on a competitive level with the 5A Eagles, and the two boys games in particular stood out. The B-team won by a final score of 36-28 to improve their record to 2-1, while the girls lost 54-22 and the varsity gave the visitors all they could handle for four full quarters before falling 46-38.

Head coach Doug Branson was extremely pleased with the efforts of both boys’ teams. The B-team had begun the fourth quarter down by a score of 23-22 until a three-point play by Toni Vasnaian at the 5:47 mark put the Bulldogs up to stay. The lead was stretched to the final margin of victory as Kamari Jackson, Jerrell Lawson and Vasnaian combined to score most of the points for the home team and would finish the evening with a total of 20 points.

The girls’ action featured a game high total of 18 points for PCHS guard Tierra Hall. The hot-shooting Lady Eagles seemed to hardly miss a shot in the opening quarter as the quickly reached 19-8 by the end of the period. The Bulldogs fought hard and kept within striking distance with a 29-13 halftime deficit and cut the lead to 30-18 on a Hall three-pointer with 4:02 left in the third quarter. From this point the taller, deeper visiting team pulled away to the win.

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The varsity match up had the looks of David vs. Goliath from opening warm-ups as both teams entered the gym. The Eagles featured six foot eight inch Jason Siples among other starters that towered over the considerably shorter Bulldogs. PCHS also dressed only seven players for the game. This left them at a disadvantage in terms of depth as the game wore on.

From the opening tip, it was obvious that the visiting Eagles had all they could handle in the tenacious defense played by PCHS. The first quarter end with the home team up 9-7 on a basket as the quarter closed. The Bulldogs would stretch the lead out to 23-16 on the hot outside shooting of Marlon Meadows who had three huge three-pointers in the quarter. Ozark scored two late baskets at the very end of the second quarter to cut the lead to 23-20 at halftime.

Branson pointed to this stretch of the game as a turning point. The Eagles went on a 17-5 run that included the end of the first half and the beginning of the second to turn a deficit into a lead. Two free throws at the 2:44 mark ended the drought but a big three pointer by Dwain Reynolds of Carroll pushed the lead back out to 38-32 at the end of the third quarter.

The fourth quarter was a defensive struggle with furious action on both ends. The points were tough to come by for both teams as they combined for only 14 points for the final margin of victory. When asked after the game about his team’s tenacity in defending the much taller Eagles team Branson smiled and admitted that they employed a version of the famed “Amoeba” defense that UNLV used with great success in the past. His considerable experience on several levels of collegiate basketball has served Branson well.

Meadows led all scorers with a total of nineteen points in a losing effort. Daulton Keel led the visiting Eagles with 12 points and Jamaree Russaw added eleven.