DACULA - The Rockdale Bulldogs must have thought that they were playing a six-man Dacula basketball team in their 71-52 loss and elimination in the Region 8-AAAA basketball tournament.
When the Bulldogs protected the paint, the Falcons found an open man on the outside. When they protected the perimeter, Dacula pounded the ball on the inside.
"When you play that hard at defense and their kids are knocking down 3s, it's hard to do," said Rockdale head coach Mitchell Harris. "They executed their game plan very well. We have the ability to get back and forth, but we just didn't get to them."
The Bulldogs tried to key on 6-foot-9 junior Brian Cole and 6-foot-8 senior Trent Kammerer under the basket. But when they did, Clay Wages and Justin Rush burned them from the perimeter.
Wages had four 3s in the first half, while Wages had one trey and two shots from just inside the arc.
Rush and Wages ended the game with 18 and 15 points, respectively.
In the second half, when the Bulldogs stepped out to protect the outside, Cole and Kammerer hurt them in the paint. The two combined for 22 points, Cole leading all scorers with 15.
"It's hard to duplicate two 6-8, 6-9 kids in practice and two 6-8, 6-9 kids that are much bigger than we are," Harris said. "We have a big kid inside, but he's not as weighty as those kids. It's hard to duplicate that."
Rockdale was hoping to combat Dacula's height using its speed, but Harris' game plan never seemed to materialize.
In the first quarter, the Bulldogs passed the ball trying to find a seam, but Cole and Kammerer closed in on the ball and prevented shots.
"We don't want to count on our outside shooting as much, we want to get the ball inside.," Harris said. "We have to go at the big kids and try to get the foul. But our kids went away from trying to score, we went away from the baskets. The big kids affected us inside."
After five minutes of play, Dacula led 4-2 before going on a 10-0 run to take a 14-2 lead.
Although Rockdale did not want to count on their outside shooting, they were forced to play that way.
They did well behind Condale Scott, who finished the game with 14 points, sinking four shots from long range.
Even with Dacula giving Rockdale some room in the post, the Bulldogs were still unable to drive the ball consistently.
"You try to establish what you want to do, then the other team forces you to react to them quickly," Harris said. "We never want to react as quickly as we did. We want them to adjust to us, but we never got the chance to get that ball inside to make them react to us.
"We went to pressure and got a few steals, but we couldn't get anything consistently. We've proven that we're an inside team against other teams, but we couldn't prove it (Wednesday). We had the kids getting there, but they were trying to avoid the contact, and you can't do that."
Finishing the game in double digits were Rockdale's Cordarryl Bethly (12) and Dacula's Storm Richardson (10).
Manny Fils can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.