By Bob Jones
Special to the Daily
The Dutchtown Lady Bulldogs rallied from a ten-point deficit in the fourth to edge the Union Grove Lady Wolverines 48-44 in overtime. and the Bulldogs continued the home team's momentum by holding off the Wolverines in the nightcap by a 68-60 final score. The Lady Bulldogs improve to 9-4 overall and 3-1 in region 3-A AAAA play, while Union Grove's girls drop to .500 (5-5 overall) and 1-3 in region play. Union Grove's boys had been undefeated in region play, falling to 6-4 overall and 3-1. Dutchtown upped its record to 5-8 overall and 3-1 in 3-A AAAA.
Union Grove's Lady Wolverines started the season with a 5-2 record, but have slipped a bit lately. When asked what happened to cause the slide, head coach Dock Gammage said, "At 5-2 we were feeling comfortable at practice (maybe not working hard enough). We have worked hard in practice over the holidays." Gammage attributed some of the early success to the inside play of Elliotte Roberts and Corinne White. "(They) have been very consistent inside."
It was just that recipe that led to the Lady Wolverines taking early control of the game. White had 13 points and six rebounds by halftime, and Roberts did her thing in the second half with nine points and five rebounds. After four lead changes in the second, Union Grove took a 38-28 lead early in the fourth. Then the Lady Wolverines simply left the door open and the Lady Bulldogs came charging right in.
Union Grove committed seven turnovers and missed the front end of a one-and-one three times, while Dutchtown was catching fire. Deundria Clark nailed a pair of three-pointers and Aisha Atwater sank five clutch free throws down the stretch, the last two tying the game with 21 seconds to go. Each team had a chance for the winning score in regulation, but the horn sounded with a 41-all tie.
Atwater made five more free throws in overtime, while Union Grove missed six, and the Lady Bulldogs had the OT victory.
Gammage had these comments before the game: ""The Dutchtown game will be another test to see where we are in the region. Alcovy seems to be the toughest team on our side of the region, followed by Woodland. Then there's a group fighting to beat those teams."
Atwater's 16 and Clark's 11 led Dutchtown, while the inside duo of White and Roberts dominated for the Lady Wolverines. White had 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Roberts missed the double-double with 11 points and 9 boards.
In the boys game, there was only a bit of excitement near the end as Union Grove tried to rally back from a 15-point deficit. Dutchtown led from late in the first through the end, never allowing the lead to slip below six. Ultimately, it can be said that free throws decided this one, just as in the opener. Dutchtown made 10 of 14 from the stripe in the fourth to cement the lead, while, the Wolverines missed 11 of their 19 freebies in the fourth.
Bulldogs head coach Bernie Farrell explained his team's recent success (now four wins in their last five games) this way. "Just having an opportunity to practice together and to form some type of identity now that we have everybody back. We still need to get better on the boards, taking care of the ball and on the defensive end." About Union Grove, Farrell said, "Union Grove is undefeated in the region and playing really well. They are really well coached and they play hard, so we are going to have to match their energy. For us it is all about taking care of the ball and playing good defense. If we can do that, we will be in games."
Joseph Shields was the key factor in the second quarter spurt that gave the Bulldogs the reasonably comfortable lead they enjoyed throughout. Shields scored nine points in the last three minutes of the first half, hitting four straight shots. The lead swelled to fifteen at 47-32 on an old-fashioned three-point play by Rodney Brown with 3:41 to go in the third.
But Union Grove wasn't quitting on this one. Despite facing another 15-point deficit in the fourth, back came the Wolverines. Threes by Jordan Nelson and Jaylon McClinton-Wise and the rebounding of Charles Mann propelled Union Grove's comeback. A steal and driving layup by diminutive (5'7") Sean Williams made the score 60-54 with less than two minutes to play. The comeback then ran out of gas, especially at the free throw line, while Dutchtown made the charity tosses when they counted.
Shields finished the game with a game-high 22 points, supported well by teammates Kellan Holiday (15) and Jalen Blye (14). Rob Ashcraft led the Bulldogs in rebounding with 11. Mann was the Wolverines' leading scorer at 21, followed by Nelson's 15. Mann won the rebounding honors for the game with 13.
Farrell sized up the region this way before the game: "UG and Alcovy are the two undefeated teams in the region, and we play them both this week, so we will see if we stack up." For the moment, Dutchtown stack up very well, thank you very much.