Rebuilding Bulldogs struggle out of the starting gate
Last season, the Marlboro County High boys' basketball team came just two points shy of playing for a state championship, falling 49-47 to Midland Valley in the Lower State Championship.
However, with a roster that featured 11 seniors, that didn't leave much experience for veteran coach James Pate to build upon for this season.
"We are really young and only have one player with much varsity experience. They are hustling and are scrappy but it is going to be a learning process," said Pate.
The only returning regular from last season is senior guard Josh Woods. Woods was one of the first off the bench last year. He was seventh on the team in scoring with a 2.5 points per game average.
Jett Herndon, a sophomore, and senior Deon Bethea were the only others who did not graduate from the 2015-16 team.
Predictably, the Bulldogs have struggled out of the starting gate.
Tuesday night, they fell to 0-2 with a 71-42 loss to Darlington. The Bulldogs kept it close for much of the first half.
However, the Falcons broke a 12-12 tie with five straight points to end the first quarter, then slowly pulled away.
A three-pointer by Jayonta Deese to start the third quarter cut the Darlington lead under double-digits at 33-24. The Falcons answered with a 16-8 rally to close out the quarter and put the game away.
Deese led the team with 12 points. Rictarious McLaurin and QuanDaveon McCollum each added 7 points, Antnee McLaurin 5, and Tray Miller 3. Iyon Williams, Woods, Herndon and Noah Henderson each added a basket.
"We'll keep working on improving individually and as a group," said Pate.
Last Wednesday, the Bulldogs opened the season with a road trip to Hartsville.
The team fell in overtime to the Red Foxes, 57-53. Woods and McCollum led the Bulldogs with 13 points each.
The Bulldogs hosted Scotland County Wednesday night, but that game was not complete before the deadline for this issue.
Lady Bulldogs fall
The Marlboro County girls' team fell behind early to Darlington, then rallied to cut the Lady Falcons' lead to one at 14-13 in the second quarter.
However, the Lady Bulldogs could not sustain their momentum and Darlington scored the final 7 points of the half for a 21-13 lead.
Marlboro could not make up any ground in the second half, falling 57-43.
Shakeira Bridges led the Bulldogs with 15 points. Shaniya Oliver was also in double figures with 13. Kennedy Ashwood, Jaylah McCormick and Hali Larkins had 4 each, Brianna Bridges 2 and Semajah Sweatman 1.
The team opened the season with a 76-22 loss at Hartsville. Kennedy Ashwood had seven points to lead the Lady Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs will travel to Cheraw Friday night and to Dillon Tuesday. They aren't scheduled for another home contest until after the holidays.