Bulldogs looking to build foundation in postseason

Published 9:34 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It’s been a series of ups and downs for the Pike County High School Bulldogs this basketball season, but that doesn’t mean it’s over just yet.

The Bulldogs will be hitting the road to Luverne this Friday for the opening match of the area tournament this Friday, squaring off against the Opp Bobcats.

The Bulldogs have played Opp twice this season, splitting the games in a couple of road matches.

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Now the two teams will face each other on neutral ground, and Bulldog’s head coach Doug Branson sees it as an opportunity for his team to show their strengths.

“We split with Opp and played some tough games with them,” Branson said. “Now we’re going to a neutral site and we’re looking forward to the postseason and to see what we can do. We’re in the last leg of the season and we’ve gotten better, we started rough but the guys have hung in there and fought. It’s a real testament to them as a team.”

The Bulldogs know that the postseason will present a tough challenge and that staying competitive will require a tightening of their game.

Consistency has been a rough patch on the Bulldog’s play ability this season, and they’ve been using the week leading up to Opp to smooth out those rough spots.

“We need to become more consistent on defense,” Branson said. “We play well in spurts but can’t keep it up the entire game. We’re also working on rebounds we’re a smaller team so we need everyone going after the rebound. If we can get more stops and pick up more rebounds we’ll get more opportunities to win and that’s all we can ask for.”

With two meetings against Opp already behind them, Branson has also been working on bringing a fresh game to a match where both teams have had plenty of time to learn the other’s strategy.

“We’re expanding our repertoire and adding a few things on offense,” he said. “Opp’s seen us play before and have played us so we’re just going to put in a few new things to give us a leg up. We’re working hard and not throwing away everything we’ve done before but just adding a few new wrinkles.”

The Bulldogs will also have a chance in the game to show their young talent, allowing their younger players to move into the game and work with the seniors to give them some solid experience for next season.

“We’ve got a kind of young movement going on,” Branson said. “Going into the area tourney we can build a foundation with them, our seniors have an opportunity to keep their season going. For these guys to go in and win would be one more notch in the hat and give them one more experience moving forward in their lives.”

Should the Bulldogs bring in a win over Opp they will then move on to the final round on Monday, Feb. 13, to play the winner of the Luverne vs. Geneva game.

But regardless of the outcome, coach Branson is thankful of his players and the work they’ve put in over a demanding season.

“I’m proud of our guys and of our entire program,” he said. “I’m proud of the entire Pike County Bulldogs program and the way they’ve represented the school this season. We’re ready for an opportunity Friday and in basketball all you can ask for is an opportunity.”

Tip-off for Pike County is set for Friday at 5:30 p.m. in Luverne.