The Upson-Lee Runnin’ Knights will be just fine if they do not see a Bulldog for a while. Over the weekend, Upson-Lee took on the Dutchtown Bulldogs and the Mary Persons Bulldogs in basketball action.
The game Friday night against the Dutchtown Bulldogs left the Knights frustrated with a 55-52 loss. However, the Knights were able to tame the Mary Persons Bulldogs in an overtime thriller Saturday for an 80-69 victory. The Knights (4-4) had chance to win both games, but failure to make clutch shots and free throws on Friday night were costly in a region loss, a loss which also saw some very questionable officiating for the first time this season.
“We’ve been lucky to have pretty good officials in our games so far this season,” said Knights head coach Darrell Lockhart. “The officials had a tough night Friday night up there, but we can’t blame that for our loss. Officials are going to have off nights, but we have to overcome that. We missed too many free throws and missed too many easy shots in the paint. Those are the reasons why we lost that game, not the officials.”
The Knights shot 12 for 21 from the free throw line at Dutchtown, while the Bulldogs were 15 of 20 from the charity stripe. The Knights did have three players in double figures, as Caleb Ward and Travis Pittman each finished with 13 points and K.D. Pennyman added 10 points.
The Knights got off to a fast start in the contest, with freshman O’Qualon Harris scoring his only points of the game with a three pointer from the corner of the Bulldogs’ zone. The Bulldogs played a zone, man to man, and full court press defense on the first three possessions of the game, but that did not effect the Knights, who led 6-0 early after a jumper from Kenderious Pennyman.
The Knights continued to attack the basket, but were not getting any calls from the men in stripes. Dutchtown was able to sustain the Knights scoring run, but still trailed the Knights 14-12 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Knights went cold from the floor shooting the basketball. Upson-Lee struggled from the free throw line and everywhere else on the court. Add to that, the frustrations the Knights seemed to feel from the lack of calls they were getting from the officials. The Bulldogs however, were making nearly every shot they took, and they took advantage of their trips to the free throw line. At the end of the first half, the Knights found themselves down 27-21.
In the third quarter, the Knights, led by their sharp shooting junior Caleb Ward, mounted a comeback in the contest. Ward scored seven of his 13 points in the third quarter and knocked down a three pointer seconds before the end of the third quarter, as the Knights regained the lead over the Bulldogs 40-39.
In the fourth quarter, the Knights took a blow to their starting line up when senior point guard Toby Fuentes was ejected from the game after his second technical foul of the contest. Fuentes was pushed by a Dutchtown player, and Fuentes retaliated. Fuentes was tossed from the game, the Dutchtown player was not.
In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs’ Donovahn Jones caught fire from three-point range. Jones drilled two three pointers in the quarter, as the Knights faded late in the game, suffering a 55-52 loss. Upson-Lee had chances to tie the game at the free throw line, but the Knights only shot 57 percent in the game.
Travis Pittman and Caleb Ward each paced the Knights with 13 points. Kenderious Pennyman scored 10 points, David Marhsall added nine points and seven rebounds, O’Qualon Harris tallied three points, while Jalen Searcy and Toby Fuentes each chipped in with two points in the loss.
On Saturday night, the Runnin’ Knights took on a Bulldog team for the second night in a row. This time, it was the Mary Persons Bulldogs, who traveled to Thomaston to face the Knights. Upson-Lee played poorly for three and a half quarters, before ultimately tying the game up and downing the Bulldogs by a 80-69 score in overtime.
“We didn’t even show up for most of the game,” said Lockhart. “K.D. Pennyman played well in the first half, but we had no one else step up for us on offense or defense. I thought we finally started to play in the fourth quarter, and in overtime we played our best basketball of the night. It was a big win for us mentally. We were coming off a tough loss the night before, and even though we did not play our best basketball tonight, we were able to right the ship and get the win.”
Both teams struggled offensively to start the game. The Knights were able to attack the basket and draw fouls, scoring six points at the free throw line in the first quarter. The Bulldogs missed several shots from inside, but did knock down (3) three point baskets in the first quarter, as the Knights held a slim 14-12 lead.
In the second quarter, the Bulldogs stifled the Knights offense with a full court press, forcing the Knights into turnovers which led to points for Mary Persons. The Knights looked lethargic for much of the first half of the game, and trailed the winless Bulldogs 29-25 at halftime.
Both teams really stepped up their offensive performance in the third quarter, but both teams also gave up plenty of fast break points. Upson-Lee scored 23 points in the second quarter, but gave up a season high 26 points in the quarter. Upson-Lee trailed at the start of the fourth quarter 55-48.
In the fourth quarter, Upson-Lee’s Kenderious Pennyman and Travis Pittman took over the game. The Knights stepped up their defensive pressure, which turned into transition points offensively, including a rim rocking break away dunk from Pittman. Pennyman, who led all players with a career high 26 points, scored 11 of those points in the fourth quarter. The Knights tied the game up with just eight seconds remaining in the game, and held on to send the game to overtime with the two teams knotted up 68-68.
From that point on, Upson-Lee dominated the game, outscoring the Bulldogs 12-1 in the overtime period, sealing the 80-69 victory.
Pennyman led the Knights with 26 points. Travis Pittman finished with a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. O’Qualon Harris tallied 13 points, Caleb Ward netted 11 points, Ja’Qualon Willis gave the Knights some nice minutes off the bench, scoring five points, while David Marshall and Antonie Miller each chipped in with two points.
The Knights will now turn their focus to Lamar County. The Knights will face Lamar County in the first round of the Lamar County Christmas Classic on Friday night at 8:30 p.m. Griffin, Pike County, Lamar County, and Upson-Lee will participate in the tournament.