Work ethic carrying Bulldogs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 23, 2000

It just doesn’t get more intense than this. Natchez’s 70-62 win over Gulfport Tuesday was kind of typical of the Bulldogs’ season. They would look very good, and then struggle at times. But one thing is for sure, this Natchez team played hard for 32 whole minutes.

And that’s the way it’s been all year –&160;against a very tough schedule.

Besides playoff teams Brookhaven, Jim Hill, Davidson, Amite County, Vidalia, Jefferson County, Wossman, West Monroe and Ferriday, the Bulldogs faced Provine twice.

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To produce a 24-8 record against that type of competition is impressive.

For the first time since 1994, the Bulldogs are competing in the South State Tournament. That was the year they won it all. Natchez has made it to the South State first round game eight of 11 years (last time in 1997).

Natchez will face Biloxi Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Harrison Central. Harrison Central meets Meridian in the second game. The two winners of Friday’s game, as well as the winner of the consolation game advance to the state tournament in Jackson.

Harrison Central defeated Jim Hill 68-52 Tuesday, while Biloxi upended Wayne County 103-89. Meridian eliminated Pascagoula 72-61.

Biloxi is 26-3, while Harrison Central is 28-2 and Meridian 24-11.

Harrison Central and Biloxi have been near the top of the prep poll all year long.

Gulfport has been ranked and Meridian even got some votes early.

Natchez never got a vote.

The Bulldogs won Tuesday despite top scorer David Haywood going out of the game with 3:18 remaining in the first quarter after picking up his second foul.

Haywood, who seemed to be in the flow early in the contest, gliding easily to the basket on Nathez’s first possession for a score, did not return until the start of the third quarter.

&uot;I was hoping the team would help me out,&uot;&160;Haywood said Haywood. &uot;I knew if they maintained the lead, we would be all right.&uot;

Natchez seemed a bit out of sync without its leader, but still maintained its intensity and stayed with a Gulfport team with an imposing inside game.

Natchez High head coach Mike Martin was appreciative of the community for coming out and supporting the basketball team.

Considering the&160;Natchez girls were playing on the Gulf Coast, falling to Harrison Central in a first round South State playoff game, the baseball team was at Brookhaven and there were a couple of other school functions taking place, the Bulldogs had a nice and encouraging backing.

And the fans were awarded with an impressive Natchez win.

But even if the Bulldogs had come out on the losing end, it would have still been worth the price of admission because this team plays hard and leaves everything on the court. And it’s good to see them earn their just rewards for it.

Gulfport head coach Bryan Caldwell was impressed with Natchez’s ability to hold off the Admirals.

&uot;But I’m telling you they are going to see some tough competition against Biloxi and Harrison Central,&uot; said Caldwell, whose team lost to the Red Rebels four times and Biloxi twice. &uot;Biloxi’s press is twice as tough as ours.&uot;

No doubt Biloxi has beaten teams with much better talent than Natchez. But I doubt the Indians have faced a team that works harder and plays more as a team. And sometimes that is just enough to get you to the next round.

Joey Martin is sports editor of The Democrat. He can be reached by calling 446-5172 ext. 232 or at