After their usual quick start Tuesday night, the Carthage Bulldogs saw the visiting Palestine Wildcats come right back at them to get into the game.
But this time the Dawgs did something different.
They combined a little defense to go with the offense.
That was more than the visiting Wildcats could handle as the Bulldogs added to their lead on the way to a 58-44 win at the Bulldog gym.
Carthage is now 11-2 for the season and 8-1 in District 17-4A, good enough to clinch at least a tie for the title. A win in their Friday night game at Hudson would have given them the tile outright as Center was just a game behind.
This win at least guarantees us of a Co-District Championship,” Carthage Coach Charlie Tucker said. “If we can win on Friday, it will be our third uncontested District Championship in a row — that’s something these guys will remember.”
Anthony Riggans did most of the damage early, scoring six in the Dawgs’ 8-2 opening run.
Palestine fought back, tying the game at 12-12 and taking its first lead in the game at 14-13 with 11.9 remaining.
However, Freddy Lynch hit one at the buzzer to put the Bulldogs up heading into the second quarter.
Lynch would score again to open the second, but Carlton Wiggins hit a 3-pointer for Palestine to tie it at 17-17.
From there it was all Bulldogs as they took off on an 16-2 run for the rest of the half do go up 33-19 at the intermission.
“We also made an adjustment on our press between the first and second quarters,” Tucker said. “We were able to get some turnovers or force them to take shots they don’t normally make. In my mind, those misses are like turnovers because they result in long rebounds most of the time.
“We knew we had to control the boards. It’s a point of emphasis for us every game, but our guys did a good job limiting Palestine to just one shot and we were able to get multiple shots on occasions.”
The third quarter saw things go pretty much the same for the home team as Riggans, Nick Stewart and Montrel Hatten picked up the scoring pace to make it a 49-30 game heading into the fourth.
The fourth period allowed Tucker to clear his bench and get several players some much needed playing time.
Stewart finished with 19 points, while Hatten had 16, Riggans had 11, Lynch had five, Nate Marry had three and Zay Woods and Kiante Smith both had two. Dreyon Barnet led the Wildcats with 13.
“We still have to play smarter basketball when we have a big lead at the end of the game,” Tucker said.