Bulldawgs’ rally comes up short in 58-53 loss to Bryan

By TJ MAXWELL
Cove Leader-Press

Trailing by as much as 17 in the first half, the Bulldawgs cut the Vikings’ lead to just three points with 2:53 left in the fourth quarter, but a 9-6 run to close the contest allowed Bryan to escape Bulldawg Gymnasium with a 58-53 win on Monday.
“I think we’re growing and that’s all we can expect to happen with these guys,” said Bulldawgs’ first-year varsity head coach Travis Boyce Jr. “We only have two guys that returned from last year, so I’ve got a brand-new bunch and I’m just trying to teach them the way of varsity. Obviously, varsity is a lot different from JV competition. 
“We have some good kids on the team and I feel like the potential is really high for us. It’s just a matter of learning the game and getting adjusted to how the varsity level looks.”
An offensive putback by Cove senior Tyrese Taylor and a three-pointer by junior Ahmad Pierce pulled the Bulldawgs back within five, 42-37, to start the fourth quarter after trailing by nine, 31-40, to begin the period.
A free throw and a pair of baskets by Bryan’s Jonathan Wells helped the Vikings increase their lead to eight, 47-39 with 4:40 left in the contest.
Senior Quinton Ford bookended a 7-2 run to pull the Dawgs within one score, 49-46, with 2:53 left in the game. Senior Maurice Toney converted a traditional three-point play during the run. 
Three trips to the charity stripe by Bryan’s JaQwan Washington resulted in 4 for 6 free throws to help the Vikings push their lead to six, 55-49, with 38 seconds remaining.
Bryan’s Wells and Cove’s Taylor then exchanged thunderous dunks for a 57-51 Bryan lead with 13 seconds left.
Cove junior Isaiah Sobers closed out the scoring for the 58-53 final score. 
Pierce finished with nine points to follow Taylor’s 23 for the Dawgs. Sobers, Ford and Toney each chipped in six points apiece followed by junior Jerome Gaillard (2) and senior Damon Hewing Jr (1).
The Vikings were led by Washington’s 25 points and Wells’ 21 points while Logan Chamberlain added 12 points on four, three-pointers to account for all 58 Bryan points.
The Bulldawgs jumped out to a 7-2 lead to open the contest, bookended by Taylor baskets but the Vikings answered with an 8-2 run for their first lead of the contest with 2:50 left in the quarter. 
A pair of baskets by Taylor and a free throw by Hewing put Cove back on top 14-23 before a pair of free throws by Washington flipped the lead back to the Vikings, 15-14, after one quarter of action.
A 13-0 Bryan run to start the second quarter opened a 14-point advantage for the Vikings, 28-14, with 3:13 left in the half. Consecutive three-pointers by Chamberlain began the quarter before free throws and baskets by Washington and Wells opened the 14-point lead.
A three-pointer by Taylor and another by Pierce cut the Vikings’ lead to single digits, 28-20 and a pair of free throws by Sobers cut the Bryan led to six, 28-22 at the halftime break.
Baskets by Washington and Wells pushed the Bryan lead back to 10, 32-22 before a steal for a layup by Toney and a free throw by Taylor made it a seven-point Bryan lead, 32-25.
Four consecutive baskets by Washington pushed the Vikings’ lead to 13, 40-27, before a basket by Pierce and a pair of free throws by Taylor cut it to nine, 40-31 at the end of three. 
Boyce saw action from every player on his 12-man roster with senior starter Ford not seeing action until the second half. That was by design as he wants to get all 12 players prepared for District 12-6A play beginning on Tuesday.
“I feel like we have to work on a little bit of everything,” said Boyce. “That’s one thing I’ve always prided myself on, making sure we’re working on a majority of the stuff we have to take care of. Right now, our Achilles’ heel is rebounding and making our free throws. We’ve got to make sure we do a better job of boxing out and securing the basketball.”
Boyce also likes that 10 of 12 of those players are at least 6 feet tall, which is a stark change from year’s past.
“(The height) is definitely going to help out a lot,” said Boyce. “The potential for our team is really high but the learning curve is short. We’ve got to learn a bit quicker now because we start district in seven days, so we have to pick it up. 
“I’m excited about the group we have. We have a nice mixture of everything, shooters, rebounders, defenders and you can’t ask for more than that as a coach.”
The Bulldawgs are currently playing in the Marble Falls Subway Classic at Marble Falls High School (results not available at press time. They return home on Tuesday for the District 12-6A opener against Killeen. The boys’ varsity will follow the varsity girls’ 6:30 p.m. contest.
“We just want to build on what we did last year,” Boyce said of this weekend’s tournament. “We went down last year and won the tournament, so we’re just looking to build off of that, go out and play well, continue to learn and grow and hopefully get us ready as we can be for Killeen.”

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