By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
TAZEWELL, Va. —
They never quit.
The Tazewell Bulldogs trailed the Abingdon Falcons by as many as 20 points, but the Bulldogs battled back to within nine before falling 70-59 in action Thursday night at Tazewell Middle School.
Dogs head coach William Lester said, “Our boys battled. We got some tired legs at the end or else I think we would have given them a good run.”
The Bulldogs opened the game on a 5-0 run and things looked great for the green and white. However, Abingdon responded with 11 unanswered points. The Falcons went on an 18-5 sport and lead 20-12 after one quarter. Josh Hess scored 12 of the Falcons 20 points.
Foul trouble hit the Bulldogs early as Juwan Jordan had to sit with three personals with 5:30 to play in the half and Abindgon began shooting the bonus less than a minute later. Malik Davis later picked up his third and took a seat for the remainder of the half.
Key for Abingdon, however was Hess who scored 23 points in the first half. A bright spot on the offensive end for Tazewell was Colin Hancock, who tallied 16 points in the first half, including three treys. Abingdon carried a 48-28 lead into the intermission.
Tazewell made defensive changes in the second half and began to whittle away Abingdon’s lead. Hess was held to two baskets as the Bulldogs drew to within 12 points of the lead. Nick Elkins had a pair of baskets and Jordan and Isayah Hagy each scored six points. The score stood at 61-45 going into the final period.
Tazewell continued its comeback. A Davis putback and then a free throw by Jesse Mountain made it a nine point game with three-and-a-half minutes to play, but the Dogs could draw no closer and Abingdon took the 11 point victory.
“At halftime we made some defensive adjustments. Josh (Hess) was lighting it up in the first half. Give that kid credit, he can play so ball,” Lester said. “We wanted to key on him the second half and that kind of took him out of his rhythm and at the same time we got in a little bit of an offensive rhythm. I have to give credit to Tanner Catron. We put him on Josh and he played some great defense on him the second half.”
Hess finished with a game high 28 points.
“Josh Hess has done a great job for us for four years,” said Abingdon head coach B.J. Lasley. One thing about him, he’s going to show up every night and he is going to play hard. That’s one thing he knows he can control and he’s going to show up night-in and night-out and give everything he’s got and he did that again tonight.”
Hancock led Tazewell with 16 points and Jordan added 13.
The Bulldogs are off until Tuesday when they visit Grundy.
At Tazewell Middle School
Francisco 2 1-2 6, Josh Hess 11 2-4 28, Blake 0 0-0 0, Lukas Hart 3 2-2 10, Blankenship 1 0-2 2, Halsey 1 1-2 3, Hardesty 0 0-0 0, Matthew Knight 5 3-6 13, Bassham 4 0-0 8, Totals 27 9-18 70.
Elkins 2 2-2 6, Davis 1 0-0 2, Catron 3 0-0 6, Colin Hancock 6 1-2 16, Jordan 4 5-7 13, Mountain 3 1-3 7, Hagy 3 1-2 9, Totals 22 10-16 59.
Abingdon......................20 28 13 9 — 70
Tazewell........................15 13 17 14 — 59
3-point goals: A 7 (Francisco, Hess 4, Hart 2); T 5 (Hancock 3, Hagy 2).
Fouled out: T - Davis. Technical Fouls: None.