By Will McClure
After seeing the final game of the Eula Tournament cancelled, the Stamford Bulldogs took their 7-9 record into Saturday’s game against Albany when they kicked off the beginning of Bulldog district play. The bad weather would not stop the Bulldogs from playing, with the game being pushed from Friday and following the Lady Bulldogs’ game, as they hoped to prove that the extra time off would not be damaging. Ultimately, bad ball movement and costly fouls in the second half would lead to the Bulldogs’ first district loss to Albany with a final score of 61-46.
The game started strong for both teams with fast and furious back-and-forth action, with Albany striking first followed closely by a basket by Zai Zai Smith off of a rebound. Ligon West was the driving force for the Bulldogs in the first period, making fast breaks to the basket and moving the ball consistently while also contributing on the scoreboard with six points in the period. The Lions would be slightly better, taking the early lead with a score of 19-14 heading into the second period.
The game continued to move quickly throughout the second period, with only a few fouls and more scoring situations. However, Albany was able to outscore the Bulldogs 8-2 early in the second. Ligon West would again be the catalyst for the Bulldogs when a three point shot would end the Lions’ run, but only for a brief time as the Bulldogs would only put an additional eight points on the board. The Lions would put on a dominating performance with fast breaks and quick shots, outscoring the Bulldogs 22-13 for the period and maintaining a 17 point lead heading into the second half.
The Bulldogs looked to fire back quickly, with four points from John Louis Dyer to kick off the third period. This would lead to the Bulldogs outscoring the Lions for the first time, going 13-7 for the period and cutting into the large deficit. A three-pointer from Lonnie Applin, a basket from John Louis Dyer and a free throw from Tanner Vance cut the lead back into the single digits by the end of the fast paced third period. Frequent passes and quick shots kept the ball moving and out of defender hands of both teams. Things would begin to fall apart for the Bulldogs throughout the fourth period, beginning with a costly foul on Zai Zai Smith when Stamford would begin to push the action. The Lions not only answered Bulldog points, but also doubled them as the lead went back into double digits. With the game firmly in their grasp, Albany increased defensively and reduced their offensive game by simply passing the ball in an effort to run out the time. The Bulldogs were able to steal the ball away on a few occasions, but could not find the basket. Albany maintained the double digit lead and took the game 61-46, giving the Bulldogs their first district loss. The loss dropped the Bulldogs’ record to 7-10 as well as open district with a 0-1 record. Ligon West led the team with 15 points, scoring in all four periods followed by John Louis Dyer with eight.
The Bulldogs will travel to Hawley to take on the Bearcats on Tuesday, January 6 at 8:00, looking to achieve their first win of district play and will return home to face Haskell on Friday, January 9 at 8:00 pm. The JV team will also resume play, coming off of their victory over Archer City on December 19 when they will also travel to Hawley, with the game beginning at 5:15 pm. JV will then participate in the Knox City Tournament from January 8-10, game times as of this writing are to be announced. The Freshman team will also be in Hawley to play their second game of the season with a game time of 4:00 pm, and this contest will take place in the practice gym. They will then play Haskell at home on Friday, January 9 at 5:15 pm. Come out and show your support for the Bulldogs!
STD 14 13 13 6--46
ALB 19 22 7 13--61
#1 Zai Zai Smith 6 pts, #5 Ligon West 15 pts, #20 John Louis Dyer 8 pts, #22 Noah Horn 7 pts, #23 Lonnie Applin 5 pts, #32 Matt Medford 4 pts, #55 Tanner Vance 1 pt.