Meadville Tribune


January 18, 2012

BOYS BASKETBALL: Bulldogs hold on for crucial win over Eagles

January 18, 2012 7:00 a.m. — If you’re reading this right now, that, according to Meadville’s head boys basketball coach Norm Price, only proves the importance of Tuesday night’s game between Region 6 foes Meadville and Grove City.

“It’s been a long time since they played in a meaningful game,” said Price. “And what I mean by that is people from around the area will pick up the papers (on Wednesday) to see who won. ‘Who won the Meadville-Grove City game?’”

Well, here’s your answer: The Bulldogs, playing in front of a large and vocal crowd at the House of Thrills, rose to the occasion to trim the always tough Eagles 58-56.

“It’s a credit to these players that they put themselves in this position,” said Price. “Because at the beginning of the season I don’t think too many people had picked us to be in this position. I don’t think too many people had us picked as one of the top teams in the league. And we’re slowly pushing ourselves in there. We have a lot of work to do. But this was a big first step.”

Last night’s win was only the start of a rugged week for the Bulldogs (10-2, 6-1 Region 6). They finish off the first half of their Region 6 schedule at Franklin on Thursday then at Hickory on Saturday afternoon.

“We still got a long way to go,” said Bulldogs junior Donte Hollingsworth. “We’ve still got a whole big week coming up. But I think we can do it.”

Tuesday night, though, the Bulldogs took a little time to relish a terrific win.

“That was a great high school basketball game,” said Price. “I don’t think we could ask for our kids to give any more; their kids and our kids both.”

The teams traded the lead a couple times throughout the first half, which ended in a 22-22 tie.

Meadville’s Zak Price opened the third with a 3-pointer and the Bulldogs never trailed in the second half. However, the Eagles did manage to tie it up at 44-44 with under five minutes to go in the fourth.

Yet about 50 seconds after that, Price manufactured the biggest momentum swing of the night.

Just across half-court, he dribbled his defender, Foster Reznor, onto his rear end with a sick crossover. Then he walked up to the top of the key and stroked a long distance 3-pointer through the hoop, energizing the home crowd and putting the Bulldogs ahead to stay.

The ’Dogs held on with some key stops on defense and a number of big plays on offense as time wound down

“I told our kids before the game that I thought toughness was going to win this game,” said Norm Price. “All the Xs and Os and everything, it was toughness.”

Zak Price ended the game with 12 points, sinking those two 3-pointers and making a couple clutch free throws in the final seconds.

Artrel Foster led the Bulldogs with 14 points and, perhaps more importantly, held Eagles leading scorer Torin Smith to just nine points, including just four during the first three quarters.

“Artrel playing Smith the way he did was great,” said coach Price. “It was a team effort. But Artrel played him really well. Smith is a great player. I’ve seen him enough to know that when he’s open he’s going to kill you. And the only thing we could do was to chase him off all of those screens, which you have to have a great athlete for. Luckily we have Foster.”

Hollingsworth ended up with 13 points and was a monster on the boards, grabbing a dozen.

Fred Epps, meanwhile, scored eight points and had five rebounds. He came off the bench in the first quarter and hit back-to-back layups on the transition to give Meadville its first lead of the night at 10-9.

“I was really, really proud of my senior, Freddy Epps,” said Price. “He exhibited some great toughness out there. I thought that set the stage for the rest of the kids.”

Jake Gregor chipped in with seven points, including a pair of crucial freebies and a layup down the stretch. He also had six rebounds.

Both Gregor and Epps had to battle with Grove City’s 6-foot-5 center Jordan Patterson all night. And both Meadville players ran into foul trouble in the process. However, Patterson left the game late in the third period with an ankle injury and wouldn’t return. He had six points and six boards to his credit.

“We thought we could go to (Patterson) inside in the first half, and we did a poor job of that,” said Grove City coach Don Fee. “We threw the ball away inside. We didn’t execute very well there.”

The Eagles — who were led by 11 points from Donte Robinson and nine apiece from Smith and Alec Goodwin — fell to 9-3 overall and 4-2 in Region 6.

It was their second straight loss following an eight-game win streak.

“We need to stop the bleeding here,” said Fee. “We’ve got to get back in (today) and get refocused. And we have to execute better in key situations. I think that’s what hurt us (on Tuesday).”

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