The Bulldogs traveled to take on fellow 46th district opponent East Jessamine Friday, Jan. 27. Despite beginning the game white hot and growing the lead to as much as 19 points in the first half, East Jessamine stormed back to win, 71-63, delivering a gut punch to Burgin in the process.
It is safe to assume the Bulldogs’ season has not gone exactly as planned. This year’s team came into the season with a new head coach and high expectations. Coach Todd Claunch’s passion and wisdom is apparent. Despite their record his team always fights, hustles and shows a tremendous deal of heart.
The Bulldogs had revenge on their minds after falling to East Jessamine earlier in the year. Senior Jacob Qualls was unavailable for that contest due to a hand injury, but with Qualls back in the starting lineup, Burgin was prepared to avenge their loss to the Jaguars.
Early in the contest it appeared the teams were evenly matched. Qualls presence brought a different feel to the game. Five minutes into the first quarter the game remained tied at 12 each. East Jessamine applied their full court press in an attempt to quicken the pace and make Burgin uncomfortable. Junior Jake Taylor broke the pressure and found Qualls for a layup that gave Burgin their first lead of the night.
What ensued was a 10 minute stretch of the Bulldogs at their absolute best. Burgin caught fire at both ends of the floor. Taylor caught a pass from Qualls to knock down his second 3-point basket of the game. Not to be outdone, Senior Hunter Reed followed with his second 3-pointer to give Burgin a 20-14 lead. Sophomore Maddox Hill hit a layup to chip in with his first points of the night. When it felt like all momentum had shifted to Burgin, Reed drew a foul on a 70 foot shot at the buzzer. Reed hit two of three free throws that gave the Bulldogs a 26-17 lead and undoubtedly the momentum heading into the second quarter.
Hill began the second quarter with a defensive statement for Burgin when he chased down a Jaguar player from behind to send a would-be layup ricocheting off the backboard. Freshman Casey Dotson made the most of his teammate’s hustle play by scoring a layup at the other end of the floor. On the ensuing possession Dotson found Qualls for yet another 3-pointer that sent the Bulldog bench into a frenzy. Taylor capped off a 22 to three point run for Burgin to firmly set the Bulldogs ahead 36-17 with four minutes remaining in the first half.
To East Jessamine’s credit, they never showed signs of quitting. The Jaguars began to chip away at the deficit, scoring nine unanswered and forcing Burgin to call a timeout. The Bulldogs added four more points to their total via two separate fast break layups. East Jessamine connected on their own 3-pointer to close the gap 41-31 at halftime.
The Bulldogs will try to get back into the winning column Thursday. Feb 2, when they hit the road to battle Powell County.