Bulldogs ‘growing up’ as season winds down

Published 11:11 pm Monday, January 21, 2013

The Pike County Bulldogs might be the surprise of the area in the 2012-13 basketballs season. The Bulldogs, led by second-year head coach Doug Branson control their own destiny down the stretch, and have an area title in their grasp.

Despite an upset loss on the road to Montgomery Catholic last week, Pike County can tie for the area title by winning the last two area games. The title won’t come easy as in the way of the area title stand No. 5 ranked Barbour County and extremely athletic Abbeville.

Branson said the key to the Bulldogs completing the run is staying focused and limiting the outside distractions.

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“We have to play our game and not worry about what is going on around us,” said Branson. “We have talked about not paying attention to the ‘outside noise.’ That noise can be anything, like the kids talking to their neighbors or me talking to you. If we can do that, we have a chance to do some special things.”

Pike County beat Abbeville earlier in the season, and led highly-ranked Barbour County in the second half before falling late. The Bulldogs sit a 2-2 in the area, and winning out gives them their long awaited area title.

Pike County is a young basketball team, led by sophomores Stevie Smiley and Deshon Cowling. Being a young team Pike County has had to face obstacles that they haven’t seen before, Branson said.

“We have done a lot of growing up over the season,” said Branson. “But we still have quite a bit left to do. Take last week for example; we did not come out ready to play in the first half against Montgomery Catholic. The second half we were fine, but we came up short.”

Branson said that building some kind of momentum is crucial to the success of the team. Three of the Bulldogs’ final four games are on the road, with two of them being area games.

“Momentum creates confidence,” said Branson. “We are going to work and try to get some wins. Even if we don’t win the area, the more wins we get the better our seed will be for the tourney. And sometimes that goes a long way in who wins it.”

Before the Bulldogs get back in to area play, they must make the 45 minute trip down U.S. Highway 231 to Dothan and battle the Providence Christian Eagles.

The Eagles are a scrappy team, and Branson said it is not the ideal game a team would want to play if needing a win.

“They are extremely well coached,” said Branson. “We have to go on the road to their place, and it certainly won’t be easy. They rarely make a mistake, and if I had to draw up a list of teams that I would want to play when I needed a win, Providence wouldn’t be on it. But we are going to play hard because it is the most important game on the schedule, because it is the next one.

Tip off for the late-season, non-area matchup is set for 4:30 p.m. in Dothan.