Record Observer - - Sports -

26 points led all scor­ers. The Buc­ca­neers, who led from the open­ing sec­onds un­til the fi­nal buzzer, got 13 points from John­son in the first quar­ter, which ended with Kent Is­land hold­ing a 17-10 lead.

Though Bull­dog ju­nior David Bai­ley led his team with 20 points, the ab­sence of in­jured point guard Joey Adams, who is not ex­pected to play un­til pos­si­bly the play­offs due to a con­cus­sion suf­fered at Kent Is­land last week, was no­tice­able.

With­out Adams bring­ing the ball down­court and pro­vid­ing a bal­ance to Bai­ley, the Bucs were able to key on the lat­ter. It worked in the early go­ing, Bai­ley be­ing held to a sin­gle bucket in the first quar­ter.

“David’s a good player, but we def­i­nitely can’t seem to com­pete nearly as well, as a team over­all, with­out Joey,” North Caro­line head coach Steve Perry said. “Joey gives us depth and skill back there that you can’t get twice from the same per­son.”

Though the Bull­dogs closed within four points twice in the sec­ond quar­ter, Kent Is­land man­aged to gain sep­a­ra­tion each time; at half, it was 30-20. Bai­ley, 1-for-5 in the first pe­riod from the floor, was 3-for-5 in the sec­ond, adding a 3-for-3 show­ing at the free throw line, for 11 to­tal points at in­ter­mis­sion. John­son, who had cooled off in the sec­ond, had 15 at that point.

The sec­ond half be­gan with both teams look­ing out of synch, and miss­ing all but two of their first nine com­bined shots. Half­way through the third, each team had scored just six more points.

“The guys tend to get down if they’re miss­ing some shots. If they make a turnover, they get their heads down,” Kra­tovil said. “The shots will come and go we’ll make mis­takes but as long as we play with in­ten­sity, play tough D and keep our heads up, we’ll be in ev­ery game.

“It was not, as you saw, it was not a, for us, a very smooth of­fen­sive game,” Kra­tovil said. “And part of that was, when I’m mak­ing sub­sti­tu­tions I’m mak­ing de­ci­sions on de­fense and of­fense. So, some­one who’s strong de­fen­sively might not be on of­fense. And that’s the give and take you get.”

What lit­tle the Bucs did give, North Caro­line tried to take, but had mixed re­sults, clos­ing within seven be­fore Kent Is­land opened it up again in the fi­nal sec­onds of the third. En­ter­ing the fi­nal stanza, the Bucs led 49-33, and main­tained that 16-point mar­gin through the fourth.

“Our goal was to slow Bai­ley down, and we did, some, but he still made some amaz­ing shots. He’s just a hell of an ath­lete,” Kra­tovil said. “In the first half of the last game, when they had their shooter, it was a very dif­fer­ent game. They’re a very, very well­bal­anced team, and with­out their shooter, they’re dif­fer­ent.”

The win, and top-seed plateau, were big points of pride for his team, Kent Is­land’s coach ob­served.

“We’ve been build­ing on this for a cou­ple years. And the kids are ex­cited about it; we’ve had a cou­ple of other games we should’ve pulled out but we didn’t,” Kra­tovil said. “When you’ve had those kinds of losses, some­times it’s hard to come back from them. ...They’ve be­come much stronger men­tally over the course of the sea­son.”

The win was big in sev­eral ways for Dal­las Miller, who fin­ished with nine points, in­clud­ing two three­p­oint­ers early in the fourth that squelched North Caro­line’s last rally. Miller, the team’s point man for a good chunk of his high school ca­reer, played not only for Kra­tovil last sea­son, but also played var­sity the sea­son be­fore that, when the Bucs went just 2-19.

“Two years ago, we were one of the worst teams in the Bay­side,” Miller said. “But now, with the progress we’ve made, we’re one of the best. It’s an honor to play on this team.”

John VanWie had 10 points for Kent Is­land. North Caro­line’s Tay Potts scored eight.

The Bull­dogs wrap up the reg­u­lar sea­son Thurs­day at 5:30 p.m. at Colonel Richard­son, which is bat­tling Cambridge-South Dorch­ester for the No. 2 seed be­hind Kent County in the Class 1A East Sec­tion I bracket.

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