STURGEON — What a difference a year makes.
Last year at this time, the Douglass Bulldogs walked off the court dejected after an opening round loss to the Salisbury Panthers in the district tournament, victims of their own youth and inexperience.
On Tuesday, however, the Bulldogs ran off of Sturgeon High School’s court brimming with pride after routing the Community Trojans 67-22 in the opening round of the Class 2, District 5 tournament.
“I remember last year when it was the other way around and we were the ones getting beat in the opening round,” Douglass coach Lynn Allen said. “This year it’s a whole new atmosphere. I’ll tell you one thing, though. We’re not going to be over-confident going into the next game, that’s for sure,” Allen said.
It appears Allen may have his work cut out for him.
“I believe this team can definitely go all the way, “ freshman Bulldog Steven Sibley said. “It’s either you win or go home from here on out and none of us are ready for the season to be over yet.”
The Bulldogs (19-6) boast an experienced rotation. The team’s youngest starter is sophomore Brandon Gleason.
“I’m just having fun right now,” said Gleason, who finished with eight points. “We worked hard since the summer to get to this point so we just have to keep fighting.”
The Bulldogs had success executing the press, forcing the Trojans (0-23) to turn the ball over 26 times.
“The nice thing about our press is that we have good finishers,” Allen said. “So when we do get a steal we have people who can put the ball in the basket.”
The Bulldogs built a 32-14 lead by halftime, which allowed Allen to get players like Sibley and freshman James Harris some district tournament experience.
“It was great to get some of the other guys in there,” Allen said. “It really helps their morale. I’ve been harping on the team all year about having the right attitude and supporting their teammates so it was nice to see that happen tonight.”
Junior Landon Boone, who finished with a game-high 25 points, has noticed that the Bulldogs seem to be playing their best basketball of the season when it counts the most.
“It seems like we’re all getting hot at the right time,” Boone said. “It doesn’t matter who we play next. Whatever team it is, though, I know we’ll be ready.”
The Bulldogs will play the winner of the Van Far-Wellsville game Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the semi-finals of the district tournament.