HOLLY RIDGE – They played the annual Maroon and Gold game at Dixon High School this past Friday night – a night for the fans to get excited about the upcoming basketball season, and a night to put the newest Bulldogs’ basketball team on display.
But over the past seven seasons the early excitement faded as the Bulldogs struggle, not only to get wins, but to compete as they compiled a six-season cumulative record of 29-120 – including a 0-24 record in the 2010-11campaign.
Last year Philip Durr took over the program and while the Bulldogs only won three games you could see some changes coming. The 2011-12 team was young but the talent level was evident – so much so that the promise of a successful season this year might actually come to fruition.
Durr lost four pretty good, and hard-working, athletes with the graduation of Vonte Simpkins, Dakota Moore, Daniel Brown, and Chase Page but he welcomes back eight players with varsity experience, and if the intensity level they showed on Friday is any indication, they have a chance to make some noise.
“We have height and we can shoot the ball,” Durr said. “The one hang up is we’re not as fast as I’d like us to be right now. If we work on that I think we can be conference contenders.”
Good teams start with a good point guard and a good man in the middle, and Friday night’s scrimmage indicated both might be in place. Sophomore center Trent Marshburn ran the floor well, hit the boards to the tune of 10 rebounds on Friday, and dropped in 12 points as the team split into two units for the scrimmage.
Junior Jalen Mitchell ran the point and showed some of the speed that Durr is looking for. Mitchell had several steals and heated up in the third portion of the scrimmage with two three-pointers and a quartet of deuces to finish with 23 points.
Junior forward Daniel pulled down 16 rebounds while chipping in with 10 points, and senior forward Zack Sicknick scored an additional 12 points.
That’s 57 points from four potential starters, and when you add in the defense those four – plus senior guard Horace Hill and junior guard Robbie Wyble – played you can see the reason for optimism. Senior guard Curtis Trexel, who led the Bulldogs in scoring in several games last year, is the probable fifth starter.
The size factor is definitely there with Marshburn, Page, and the 6-foot-2 Sicknick allowing Durr to put some big bodies on the floor.
Senior center Brian Hill brings some veteran experience off the bench while Durr has been impressed with the early efforts of newcomers like freshman center Matt Elmore –who had six points and a handful of rebounds on Friday – and junior guards Gekwan Bryant and D’Angelo Williams.
The Bulldogs open play Tuesday (Nov. 20) at home against 2A Richlands before traveling to Wilmington next Tuesday (Nov. 27) for a game at Coastal Christian. They finish the month of November with road games at Richlands (Nov. 29) and at Trask (Nov. 30).