In their season opener, the RCS junior varsity basketball team came to play, as they overpowered River Mill Academy all night long in a 69-22 victory.
At the end of the first quarter, the score was 14-2. The Bulldogs scored by continuing to work the ball inside, while preventing the Jaguars from scoring points by trapping them into double-dribbles and backcourt violations.
In the second quarter, the Jaguars started to climb back, as they brought the score to 14-6. That was the closest the Jaguars would get in the quarter and the game as a whole, with the Bulldogs catching fire after they scored their first points of the quarter at the 4:25 mark. A big reason why the Bulldogs were able to push their lead even further was a six-point spurt from Jordan Pettiford, who pushed the score from 21-9 to 27-9.
At the half, RCS was up 32-12 behind a smart shot selection, stifling defensive performance, and a scoring attack led by Pettiford and Jacob Bobbitt.
The Bulldogs played even better basketball in the third quarter, as they pushed their lead to 49-14 with one minute left. In the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs kept their foot on the gas and rode a strong all-around performance to a 69-22 win.
After the game, head coach Justin Bettendorf said his team had a dominant performance.
“The guys did a really good job of bringing energy the whole time tonight, and also showing that resiliency that I talked about with the varsity team. One of River Mill’s starters was injured before the game, and they were short a couple of players. We took advantage of that, using our full bench. Everybody played, everybody got some good minutes and a good run. Not letting up tonight was huge.”
The Bulldogs’ junior varsity basketball team saw everyone on their roster play against River Mill, including Franklin Bell and Jacob Bobbitt, who were playing down from varsity. Bell and Bobbitt had a huge impact on this game, even before the on-court action had started.
“It was great,” said Bettendorf. “I walked into the locker room, and I had one of our older guys tell our younger guys how we do things. This is always good to hear because that means the older guys listened, and they took that initiative to go ahead and be leaders. On the court, they’re probably only our two true post players on JV. They’re huge with that inside presence.”
Bobbitt, one of the varsity guys playing for JV on Thursday night, was a force in the paint, causing trouble for Jaguar defenders all night long. While Bobbitt only ended up with four points, he consistently grabbed boards and spaced out the floor.
“What we do in practice, we break up into post and perimeters. We work a lot of the varsity guys on post up. That’s one thing that is definitely getting Bobbitt better.”
In addition to the strong post play in this game, the Bulldogs were running around the Jaguars in circles all night long.
“Both Franklin Bell and Jacob Bobbitt are soccer players, so they bring a lot of energy from the soccer field onto the basketball court. As you can see, nobody got tired today, which was impressive.”
Because of that endless energy, the Bulldogs were able to generate the 69 points that they scored in this game. While the offense was executing a lot of plays, it was not all offense that got the Bulldogs their points.
“The offense definitely starts with our defense,” said Bettendorf. “We like to pride ourselves on trying to score off turnovers. If not turnovers, we get a rebound and try to get a run off the fast break. That’s why we try to be in good condition. You try to keep on running, especially against a team that is lacking subs.”
While the Bulldogs outran the Jaguars, when they got up big later in the game, the Bulldogs played a slower brand of basketball.
“In a game like that, you do want to slow down every once in a while and work your half-court offense,” said Bettendorf. “I thought the guys did a good job of that, too. We didn’t necessarily make all of the shots, but we got some good opportunities.”
Going into their next game, which is tonight at 6 p.m. at Raleigh HomeSchool, Bettendorf wants to see his JV bulldogs carry over a lot from the dominating victory against River Mill.
“Part of the reason we ran what we ran tonight is because it’s what we’re going to run in every game: the way we came out with our three-quarter court press, and changing up to a 1-2-2. I think the guys will take this as a good confidence booster, and no matter what happens tomorrow night, I think because this team comes from a conference similar to ours, it should give them a good shot of momentum when we do start going into conference play.”
Freshman Sam Wheeler scored 14 points on the night to lead the Bulldogs on the offensive end against River Mill.