Coach Sean FitzSimons young Virgin Valley High School Bulldogs grew up quickly Saturday in the Bulldog Invitational Tournament as they shocked Division 1 opponents Bonanza and Shadow Ridge High School with their aggressive play. “I told the kids that if they believed in the system and apply themselves they would be amazed at the results,” said Coach FitzSimons. He was right as the Dawgs took the Bengals and Mustangs to the wire before losing 63-60 and 80-76.
The first game of the day was a cat and dog fight between the Bengals and the smaller Dawgs. The Dawgs came out with a box one zone defense which through a hitch to the fast run and gun offense of the Bengals. The zone forced the Bengals to throw up bricks and cause errors in their full court press. The Dawgs led the high scoring Bengals 11-7 after one period of play. Reserve Quintin Smith sparked the Dawgs coming off the bench with four points. The Dawgs increased their lead to 26-20 at the break as the zone continued to frustrate the Bengals. Coach FitzSimons substituted frequently keeping fresh players on the floor against the quicker Bengals. Six Bulldogs scored in the period.
The young Bulldogs seemed to mature as the game continued but the relentless press applied against the Dawgs caused some turnovers in the third period bringing the Bengals, back to a 42-42 tie after three quarters. Cody Burnside hit for six points and Hogan Fowles had five to lead the Dawgs. The Bulldogs lost top score Marcus Saunders on fouls a minute into the period.
The Bulldogs lost Fowles with the score tied at 48-48 but were daunted as they matched up with the tall Bengals. Bulldog point guard Jarrett Tietzen stepped up hitting for 10 points in the last period. The Bulldogs lost center Burnside to fouls a minute remaining. Tietjen hit a big three to cut the Bengals lead 61-60 with thirty seconds remaining on the game clock. The Dawgs were forced to foul giving the Bengals two more points from the line. A last ditch three point shot by the Dawgs clinked off the iron ending the game 63-60 in favor of the Bengals. “We stuck to our game plan and had a chance to pull it out,” said FitzSimons. “The boys played great and we had a well balanced attack. We hope to bounce back in our next game.” Tietjen led the Dawgs with 12 points followed by Fowles with 10 points.
Bulldogs lose in last seconds to Mustangs 80-76
The Virgin Valley High School Bulldogs returned to the court in the early evening to face a tall and quick Mustang team from Shadow Ridge High School. The Mustangs blew out Moapa Valley earlier in the tournament 68-39. The Bulldogs stayed with the Mustangs for 31 minutes before losing 80-76 in the last minute of play. The Dawgs took a first period lead of 8-4 behind six points from Marcus Saunders. The Dawgs ended the period with a 22-19 lead. Good ball handling against the full court press of the Mustangs surprised the Shadow Ridge squad. Mistakes by the Dawgs led to zero points after four minutes of the second period. The Mustangs led 34-27 before Jarett Tietjen hit a free throw and long bomb to cut the Mustangs lead to 34-31 at the half.
Bulldog center hit for the first 8 points of the third period to keep the Dawgs in the hunt 42-39. The Dawgs took a 51-48 lead on Cody Fowles three with a minute and a half remaining in the period. The Mustangs rallied to take back the lead 56-53 against the stubborn Bulldogs.
The fourth quarter was a dog fight as the teams traded baskets. Seven Dawgs scored in the period led by Marcus Saunders with 11 points. A huge put back by Saunders gave the Dawgs the lead at 75-73. Two quick turnovers by the Dawgs and two questionable calls by the refs ended the game at 80-76. Saunders led the Dawgs with 19 points followed by Tietjen with 16. Also scoring in double figures, were Burnside with 11 points and Fowles with 10. The Bulldogs attempted 67 free throws and made 42 for the two games. Tietjen was named to the all-tournament team by the press.
The Dawgs will host TECH on Monday December 15, travel to Del Sol on Wednesday before returning home to host archrival Moapa Valley on Thursday. The Bulldogs non-season record stands at 2-6 going into league play.