Spearheaded by a ferocious defense, the Wake Christian Bulldogs reeled off 32 consecutive points in a little more than eight minutes as part of a 68-35 demolition of Wilson Christian on Friday night in the Bulldog Classic.
Wilson Christian pulled away late in the fourth quarter of the girls’ game to get a 37-29 victory.
In the nightcap, Wake Christian’s defense forced 14 turnovers in a stretch over the first and second quarters that led to 18 points, including jarring dunks by Rob Whitfield and Isaiah Moore. What was a 6-6 tie suddenly became a 38-6 runaway.
“We were being active on defense,” Bulldogs coach Chris Underwood said. “We were telling our guys to move our feet and not our hands. I thought we did a good job of that. We really cut off their drives and were able to get hands in the passing lanes. I was proud of that effort.”
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Whitfield scored 20 points and Moore 10, but the story was the defense for Wake Christian (10-5). Wilson Christian committed 20 turnovers in the first half, many because of full-court pressure.
The Chargers (7-9) finished with 25 turnovers – but also finished without a two-point field goal. Wilson Christian made 11 of 29 3-pointers – including 5 of 11 as the clock ran continuously in the fourth quarter – but missed all 10 of its shots from inside the arc.
“(Underwood has) been stressing defense a lot lately,” Whitfield said. “We’ve been playing good defense, but he just wanted us to play as good as we can.
“We just know we can do better than what we’ve done. We just had to play better defense.”
It would be hard to imagine a team playing better defense than the Bulldogs, with a consistent effort for most of the night. With the game out of hand, Wilson Christian was content to shoot 3s in the fourth quarter and didn’t take a two-point goal.
“We were good in spurts,” Underwood said. “I thought we could’ve been better in the first half. We’re still getting to where we need to be defensively. We did a better job of communicating tonight, but we’re continuing to stress to our guys that we’ve got to be low to play defense.
“It still has to improve. It’s improved every game since Christmas, but it’s going to have to be a lot better tomorrow.”
Wake Christian faces Rocky Mount Christian Academy in the championship game Saturday.
Bulldogs just miss
The girls’ game was a much tighter affair, as Wake Christian’s Ashton Thomas cut the lead to 31-28 midway through the fourth quarter. But Presley Bisset made four consecutive free throws for Wilson Christian (10-4) to put the game away.
Bisset, a junior guard, scored eight of her 16 points in a clutch fourth quarter.
“We’re going to struggle to score most of the year,” Chargers coach Brian Trull said. “We have to ‘ugly up’ the game, so baskets are definitely at a premium. When you have somebody like Presley who can get it the basket and hit the occasional outside shot, it’s good.”
Coach Danny Hensley’s Bulldogs remained winless at 0-12, though his team continues to fight. Wake Christian lost its starting point guard to a knee injury in the summer and has struggled to shoot well.
A young team with only one senior, the Bulldogs were led by freshmen Thomas and Annah Bishop, who came off the bench to score eight points each.
“They play hard,” Hensley said. “For what we have going on, that’s what you ask for, for them to play hard to the end. They’ve done that all year, so I’m proud of that part of it.”