By LARRY HYPES
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
RICHLANDS, Va. —
Near the end of the opening quarter Tazewell coach Lee Walker might have wondered where his team was — and about that time they showed up.
Outscoring Richlands 20-1 at one stretch midway through the first half, the visiting Bulldogs waltzed to a 76-48 Southwest District triumph over the outmanned Blue Tornado Monday.
It was a make-up game, and the Dogs made up for lost time after RHS grabbed an early lead. Zach Johnson put the Blues up on his first two shots by a 4-1 margin as the scrappy Richlands team went-to-toe with their foe in the first four minutes of play.
Three-point shots from Jalen Jordan and Tanner Catron ignited the Tazewell offense as the Dogs (6-11, 2-4) changed defenses, which fueled a blazing offense for the next eight minutes against the Blues (2-12, 0-5).
The Dogs dropped in eight treys during the contest.
With Jordan and his brother, Juwan, aided by the inside play of Noah Walker and Isaac Santana, Tazewell began to steal and score almost at will in the second stanza, forcing Richlands into numerous turnovers.
Jordan scored the nets for 26 points, blocked three shots, grabbed eight steals, dished out seven assists, and pulled in six rebounds in an all-around display of roundball rhythm for the Bulldogs.
After a solid first half, he pumped in a couple of quick buckets to open the third quarter and keep Tazewell in control.
“Our defense was the key tonight,” noted Jordan, “and when got our press going that really opened it up for the offense. We just had a good game. Everything we tried tonight seemed to work.”
Richlands, although out-gunned, never stopped playing hard the whole night.
Evan Meadows turned in an impressive 14-point effort for Coach Jody Fuller’s squad. Johnson finished with eight points and 10 rebounds for the Tornado, which played virtually even with Tazewell in the third quarter. Kyle Call added seven points for RHS.
Walker sat out for stretches in both halves but had the most dramatic play of the game, a whirling thunderous, two-handed dunk shot at the halftime buzzer which sent the big Tazewell crowd in a roaring tribute as the Dogs headed for the locker room.
Walker scored 15 and notched 12 rebounds in two full quarters.
“It was fun out there,” said Walker. “It’s always good to beat Richlands, especially in their gym. Getting a district win should pump us up and get us back on track heading into final stretch of the season.”
Juwan Jordan sparkled defensively and was deadly with his outside shooting for THS. Jordan added 15 points and four assists. Santana pulled in 10 rebounds for the Dogs, and Christian Lewis had seven boards.
A late highlight for the Blue Tornado was an impressive steal-and-score by Anthony Austin in the closing minute of play.
“We always play hard,” said Coach Fuller. “I am pleased with how our boys try every minute of every game. I wish we had played a little better but Tazewell has so many weapons. They look like they could win every time they step on the court.”
Richlands made 7-of-16 free throws while Tazewell hit just 4-of-12 at the line.
The Bulldogs coach Lee Waker concluded, “I’m happy to get this win. Our whole team played strong, played well, and did what needed to be done. We have to build on this. It’s the first game of a long, tough week for both teams. We’ll meet again before it’s over.”
Tazewell plays at Marion Wednesday and will host Richlands Friday. Richlands entertains Abingdon tonight, Twin Valley Wednesday, and travels to the Dog House Friday for a girls-boys doubleheader.
At Richlands Middle School
TAZEWELL (6-11, 2-4)
Jalen Jordan 26, Noah Walker 15, Juwan Jordan 15, Tanner Catron 5, Colin Hancock 3, Christian Lewis 5, Jesse Mountain 3.
Kyle Call 7, J.T. Anderson 3, Ben Brown 4, Zach Johnson 8, Evan Meadows 14, Anthony Austin 2, Gabe Hunsaker 5.
Tazewell...........17 24 14 21 — 76
Richlands.........13 4 13 14 — 48
Three-point goals — TAZ 8 (Juwan Jordan 3, Lewis 1, Catron 1, Hancock 1, Mountain 1, Jalen Jordan 1); RHS 2 (Call 1, Brown 1). Fouled out – none.