Dora had the speed and endurance.
That proved to be the winning combination as the Bulldogs earned a spot in the regional tournament with a 61-50 victory over Bibb County Friday night at Dora High School.
The Bulldogs (19-7) play top-ranked Dallas County at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Central Regional Tournament at Alabama State University in Montgomery. Dora is in the regional round for the second straight season. Last year, Dora was eliminated in its opener at the Northwest Regional Tournament.
The game marked the final home contest for seven Dora seniors. The Bulldogs finished the season 11-1 at home with the one loss coming to Fairview in overtime in the home opener.
“This was a great way for our seniors to close out. We talked about defending our home court tonight,” Dora coach Michael Bridges said. “I told them that they’ve been winners at home all year and now is not the time to stop.”
While the Choctaws had the size, it was no match for Dora’s speedy offensive attack.
Dora used a torrid 16-3 second-half run to put the Choctaws away. The Bulldogs led by as many as 17 points midway through the quarter and coasted down the stretch.
“They’ve got a lot of long, athletic guys. Our style of ball is in contrast to what they want to do,” Dora coach Michael Bridges said. “We want to run it up and down the court. Our plan was to press them and use our speed against them. I think it worked out pretty well.”
Dora got off to a slow start, scoring just four points in the opening quarter.
Bibb County (13-14), which has four players over 6-foot-3, took a 10-4 lead into the second quarter. Dora made quick work of the lead behind its long-range attack. Four different players made 3-pointers in the second quarter. Caleb May, Deionte Smith, Kenton Petties and Kaleil James each connected as Dora put 21 points on the scoreboard and took a 25-20 lead into the half.
The Choctaws didn’t go down easily. Bibb County cut the Dora lead to four points late in the third quarter after a pair of free throws from Nick Murphy made the score 39-35 with 1:44 left. Dora retaliated with a basket by James and a 3-pointer from May to start its 16-3 run.
The Bulldogs led 44-36 at the end of the third quarter and got scores from May, James, Smith and DeAngelo Pendleton to open up a 55-38 lead with 4:28 remaining. Bibb County got no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
For Dora, May led the way with 16 points, both Smith and James added 12 points, Pendleton and Petties each had nine points and Devonta Gosha added two.
Bibb County got 16 points from Buster Goode while Brandon Rutledge added 11.
Bridges said he isn’t concerned about playing top-ranked Dallas County.
“Like I always tell our guys, I don’t worry about the opponent. I worry about our guys —about how mentally prepared and focused we are. That’s what I’ve preached to the guys since I got here,” Bridges said.
Dallas County (25-5) moved on with a 46-33 win over Dadeville on Friday.