Bulldogs drop another

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Containing Kevin Sims&8217; ability to score is tough enough.

But here is where the talented Forest Hill senior can really hurt you &8212; he can make all sorts of passes thanks to his superior court vision, and he can play defense, too.

All it took was an 18-second span Friday night at the Natchez High gym to prove that. Sims had the shot under the goal on a break, but he opted for a behind-the-back pass to teammate Darren Bass for the bucket.

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Then the Bulldogs brought it down on their next possession, he stole the pass and out-ran everyone down the floor for a bucket.

Sims finished with 27 points. Forest Hill finished off Natchez, 76-64.

&8220;We just kept our composure, and we didn&8217;t make any careless turnovers,&8221; Sims said. &8220;I try to create shots for my players and teammates. I try to get them in scoring position. I try to do whatever is going to help the team. If it&8217;s score, I&8217;ll score. If it&8217;s pass, I&8217;ll pass.&8221;

Sims did a little of both over the course of the game, and the passing game enabled the Rebels (3-1, 16-6) shake off any defense the Bulldogs threw at them over the course of the game.

They found a way over the press, got it inside when it went to a half-court game and got steals and scored out of transition.

&8220;Kevin is very talented,&8221; Forest Hill head coach Clay Norton said. &8220;He has vision, and you can&8217;t teach that. He&8217;s not a selfish player who has to shoot. He helps a lot of other people score, though. You saw that tonight. He just helps a lot of people score.&8221;

It wasn&8217;t his 27 points that really hurt the Bulldogs. His assists inside to sophomore Terrell Kennedy were big as the big man put up 16 points down low.

Much of that was the result of matchups down low. No longer as big as they were the first meeting with the losses of DeKeedrian Jackson and Calvin Hall, Natchez High struggled to defend down low.

&8220;When you have inside and outside, it creates problems for us,&8221; Natchez High head coach Mike Martin said. &8220;Against a good team, you can&8217;t make mistakes. This is a team that&8217;s beaten Wingfield, Lanier and Murrah.&8221;

The Bulldogs (1-3, 6-10) never could get the deficit within striking distance, and Sims and the Rebels seemed to have an answer late for each bucket the Bulldogs sank. They got a bucket and later two free throws from C.J. Wright early in the fourth that cut it to eight, but Sims hit a bucket to put the lead back at 10 points.

Kennedy then tossed in another basket for a 63-51 lead at the 6:22 mark.

The Bulldogs then got consecutive buckets on putbacks from DeShawn Griggs and Wright to trim the deficit to 67-59, and later Dewong Hughes hit a 3-pointer that cut it to 69-62.

That&8217;s when Sims did his heroics.

&8220;Our philosophy is to have an offense for every defense thrown at you,&8221; Norton said. &8220;We try to respond to whatever we see. We just like to keep it simple. (Kennedy) is getting better, and he&8217;s having better decisions to make.&8221;

Kennedy was big in the second half nine of his 16 points coming after halftime. The Bulldogs came out in the second half pressing, and the big man got down the floor in a hurry and was on the receiving end of a long pass that he converted into a bucket for a 43-33 lead.

He later converted a three-point play for a 46-35 lead with 5:26 left.

&8220;We pressed and tried to get them to slow the ball down,&8221; NHS guard Jason Bruce said. &8220;We wanted them to play the way we wanted to play. When (Kennedy) got one on one with DeShawn, DeShawn would front him and they&8217;d lob it over his head.&8221;

Forest Hill had to pick it up defensively in their half-court after the first quarter when Hughes canned three 3-pointers to tie the score at 20. Hughes hit two more for the game to lead Natchez in scoring with 17.

But the Bulldogs went cold right before half.