After a tight first quarter, the Quitman Bulldogs used a strong defense and a consistent offensive effort to pull away from the Fruitvale Bobcats and start the season with a resounding 87-43 home opening win. Coach Jim Reid substituted freely throughout the game in the overall team victory.
The Bulldogs will be without the on court services this year of last year’s leading scorer, Garret Taylor, who sustained a severe knee injury in the final football game. Sophomores Jace Reid and Luke Pruden, with senior Garrett Peek, picked up the slack along which included the successful debut of freshmen Kalen Wilkerson and Aiden Steward.
The Bulldogs got on the board first when the 6’6” Wilkerson was fouled and the freshman calmly hit both free throws. Reid followed that with a long three-point effort and two free throws to make it an early 7-0 lead for Quitman.
Peek hit on a pair of driving lay-ups to give Quitman an 11-3 advantage at the 5:08 mark of the first quarter. But the Bobcats fought back with three triples of their own and the first period ended 21-16.
The pressure of the Bulldog defense and Coach Reid’s constant rotation eventually wore down the feisty Bobcats. Peek hit two more shots early in the second quarter top make it 25-16 and the Bulldogs would go on 24-9 second quarter run to take a 45-23 lead at intermission. Peek and Reid each had 15 first half points.
In the third quarter, A.J. Dunn, Pruden and Wilkerson dominated the boards. Reid hit two shots and a free throw to give Quitman a 50-23 cushion. Wilkerson showed the savvy of a veteran when he hustled after two of his own missed shots and with a determined effort put in the third. Senior Dunn made his presence felt with a dominating defensive effort crashing the boards and forcing the Bobcats into turnovers. Josh Medlin added a solid defensive game with Riley Flanangan coming in to do a good job on the boards.
Steward had a strong second half scoring 11 of his 13 points, including seven in the final quarter. Reid had the hot hand for the game ending with a 27 point effort. Last year’s district “Freshman of the Year” hit on three long range bombs and was 4-5 from the charity stripe. Peek ended the night with 17 points followed by Pruden’s 14, Stewart with 13 and Wilkerson with nine. Ben Burroughs added six points and gave the Bulldogs a solid defensive effort.
For Fruitvale, Gavin Sale had 26 points including four from three-point range. Preston Thompson added 10 for the Bobcats.
The Quitman Junior Varsity handily took down the Bobcat JV 47-7.
The Bulldogs were scheduled to play at Saltillo Monday at 1:30 p.m. and Avinger Tuesday at noon. The Bulldogs will not be at home again until they host a tournament at Ballard Memorial gym Dec. 7-9.