Bulldogs come up short

Published 3:00 am Wednesday, December 16, 2015

By Michael Shipma:

Youth and inexperience were too much for the Pike County girls to overcome as they fell 27-44 to Bullock County on Tuesday.

Despite cutting the deficit to single digits going into the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs (1-4, 0-0 3A Area 4) were unable to overcome turnovers and solid shooting down the stretch from the Hornets (2-6, 0-0 4A Area 4).

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“We’ve been playing good defense and were able to force some turnovers tonight,” Bulldog head coach Todd Reynolds said after the game. “We worked hard to earn those turnovers, but then we turned the ball right back over ourselves and that’s what killed us tonight.”

Pike County has a young team, and it relies heavily on a number of eighth-graders to make up its roster. That inexperience showed from the opening tip, as the Bulldogs fell behind 12-4 after the opening quarter. Senior forward Shaquavia McKinney led her younger teammates throughout the game, providing 10 points and 13 rebounds to help keep Pike County in the game.

“Anytime that you have to rely on eighth-graders to play at the varsity level, it’s going to be hard to compete,” Reynolds said. “Our half-court trap helped us generate turnovers, but we lacked the ability to shoot well enough to beat them.”

A slow first half for both teams resulted in a 19-9 advantage for Bullock County going into the locker room, a lead that they would maintain for the rest of the contest. Junior guard Amber Novles, who tallied 19 points, led the Hornets offensively.

Pike County turned up the defensive intensity in the opening minutes of the second half, and thanks to some quick points off turnovers, the Bulldogs were able to cut the home team’s lead to nine with eight minutes left to play. Eighth-grade guard Na’Kieya McClain contributed nine points of her own off the bench, helping to narrow the deficit in the second half.

But in the end Novles and the Hornets were simply too much for Pike County to defend, as they claimed the victory. Both teams now will look to continue to prepare for their respective upcoming conference schedules in January.

“The biggest thing for us right now is to develop mental toughness,” Reynolds said. “They’ve got to learn how to handle the pressure of the game, and I have no doubt that they’ll continue to work on getting better.”

Pike County will return to action on Thursday, when they host Cottonwood at home at approximately 5:45