No one knew what to expect, from the Bulldog Boys basketball program this year, as assistant Sean FitzSimons took over the helm assisted by Joe Shepherd. He knew his team would be small in stature but hoped they were large in heart. The Dawgs returned Dee Bowler, Tyson Teerlink, and Dillon Graves starters from last year’s squad. Lacking a big man in the middle and a point guard, FitzSimons had his work cut out as the Bulldogs began a new era called Division 1-A. The Bulldogs plus 3-A Division rivals Boulder City and Moapa Valley High Schools were placed with a group of much larger schools from Las Vegas. The division was divided into two sections Sunrise and Sunset. The Bulldogs would face 3000 plus student population schools like Clark, Cheyenne, Desert Pines, Western, Chaparral and Mojave High Schools. Former student Garrett Leavitt returned from Idaho and became an instant starter. Tanner Kilmer moved up from the JV squad giving the Dawgs a little height in the middle. DeVonte Milligan a transfer from California became eligible after the first semester and gave the Dawgs hope on the boards.
The Dawgs’ season began with a loss at home against Faith Lutheran. The Dawgs then traveled to Winnemucca for the Lowery Invitational. After losing to host Lowery the Bulldogs won the next two games and returned to face Silverado in Las Vegas. The Bulldogs surprised and pulled off a win before losing a home game to Cedar of Utah.
Next up was the annual Bulldog Invitational Tournament in Mesquite. The Bulldogs defeated Western and Desert Oasis before dropping the championship match to Basic High School, a Division 1 school.
The Bulldogs’ surprising record stood at 6-4 going into league play. It was apparent that Bowler, Leavitt and Teerlink would be the leaders of this year’s squad. The lack of a big man and a true point guard would hurt them against the bigger and more athletic Las Vegas teams. Milligan began playing and added depth and rebounding for the Dawgs.
The Bulldogs would start league play with two wins before falling to arch-rival Moapa Valley 45-42 at Moapa. The Bulldogs would face their biggest test two games later as they traveled to eventual division winner Desert Pines to face the Jaguars. The Bulldog’s lost 78-47 in their first test against a 1-A powerhouse. The Bulldogs lost their last four games of the season, the last against Clark in the first round of the playoffs 68-38. The Bulldogs finished league play with a 6-6 record.
Leading the Bulldogs in scoring this year, junior shooting guard Leavitt averaged 15.7 per game but was not consistent in his shot selection shooting only 39 % from two point range and 31 % from three. He led the Bulldogs from the line with 72 makes out of 91 attempts. The rest of the team shot only 60.84 % from the line. Senior Teerlink did not add much more in shooting percentage and finished the season with a 14.5 P.P.G. He led the Dawgs in rebounding with 125 for the season for a 5 per game clip. Sometime point guard Bowler scored at a clip of 9.4 points per game. He led the Dawgs in steals with 55 for a 2.4 per game average but committed 113 turnovers for the season.
The Bulldogs will return year end starters Leavitt, Bowler, Graves and Milligan and second tier players Nathan Hughes, Rich Martinez and part time starter Trevor Robison. Without question, Coach FitzSimons needs to develop a true point guard this summer and hope for a much needed big man to transfer in from outside the community. Overall, FitzSimons’ 14 win record in his inaugural season has only been topped by 15 wins by two other coaches in Bulldog history.