Knights’ struggles at FT line becoming a huge concern

Wes McCard Sports Editor

December 17, 2013

The Upson-Lee Knights (3-6, 1-4) took on the Dutchtown Bulldogs (1-5, 1-5) in a Region 4 showdown on Friday night. The Bulldogs entered the contest without a victory so far this season, and after just five minutes of play, it looked as if the Knights were going to hand the Dawgs their sixth loss of the season.

The Knights jumped out to a 12-2 lead in the early moments of the first quarter, but the Dawgs fought their way back into the game over the last three quarters. The Knights struggled from the free throw line and enabled the Bulldogs to take a one point lead with just a minute remaining in the game. UL tied the ball game up, but the Knights missed some free throws in the closing seconds and the Bulldogs made enough free throws to down UL by a 62-61 score.

“I’m very disappointed in our performance tonight,” said UL head coach Darrell Lockhart. “I felt like we had them on the ropes early but we just didn’t step on the gas. We missed so many chances to open up a lead, and in the end it was free throws once again which cost us a victory. We practice, practice, and practice free throws, but when we get in the games we just freeze up. We need to have more confidence when we go the line. That’s half of the battle, knowing you are going to make those shots.”

David Marshall and Kenderius Pennyman each started out scoring at will for the Knights in the first quarter. Pennyman drilled a three-pointer and Marshall had his way in the paint, and just minutes into the game, the Knights had a 10-point lead.

In the second quarter, the Knights continued to lead the Bulldogs, but it seemed as if the Knights did not have the spark they had to start the game. Dutchtown was able to get open shots and get to the basket, but the shots did not fall. At the end of one half, the Knights led the Bulldogs by a 30-21 score.

In the third quarter, the Bulldogs came out in a 2-2-1 full court press, forcing the Knights into some turnovers. Dutchtown took advantage of the Knights mistakes, going on an 8-0 run to start the second half of the game, cutting the Knights lead to 30-29.

The Knights continued to get open shots and get to the basket with ease, but more importantly they got to the free throw line. However, at one point they missed seven free throws in a row in the third quarter, something that could have opened up a bigger lead.

In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs and Knights each started to get in foul trouble, and the Bulldogs took advantage where the Knights could not. Dutchtown’s Aundre Reid, who led all players with 24 points, scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, and made 10 of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter.

All of a sudden with just under a minute left, the Knights found themselves down by a 59-58 score. UL was able to draw a foul and get to the free throw line, but once again, they missed both free throws. The Bulldogs knocked down a three- pointer to take a 62-58 lead, which would seal the victory. UL’s Malik Crafter drilled a three-pointer with just three seconds to go to cut the lead to 62-61, but the Knights could not foul before the clock ran out.

O’qualon Harris led the Knights with 17 points. Dinasis Walker added 14 points, while David Marshall netted 10 points. Kenderius Pennyman tallied eight points, Malik Crafter finished with six points, Antonie Miller scored three points, Toby Fuentes added two points, while Jarvis Atwater chipped in with one point.

The Knights travel to Greenville tonight to take on the Patriots. Tip off is set for 7:30 p.m.