By Chuck Livingston Sports Editor
IMBODEN — The first dog bark was heard late in the second quarter. The rallying cry of Bulldog Nation, the faithful fanbase of Earle High School, was loud and proud throughout the second half. The reason was simple: Earle had turned their rematch against Marked Tree into a mismatch. Seven days after losing the district title game in Marked Tree to the host Indians, Earle turned the tables in Imboden, beating their district rivals 71-41 at the Sloan-Hendrix basketball gym. It was Earle’s third win in four meetings against Marked Tree this season. While Bulldog Nation undoubtedly drew some added motivation from the Marked Tree loss, veteran Earle head coach Billy Murray almost seemed appreciative of the previous result after the game. “The best thing to ever happen to us was losing that game against them (Marked Tree) last week,” Murray said. “I think it woke us up and made us come together as more of a team. The rebounding was great tonight, we took good care of the basketball. I thought we ran really well. We just looked like more of a team.” Earle led 13-9 after the first quarter, but the second quarter belonged almost solely to the Bulldogs. Leading 15-14 early in the second stanza, Earle uncorked a 20-2 run to end the half with a 36-16 halftime advantage. That stretch featured five Marked Tree turnovers, and Earle making some high-percentage shots. In fact, only four of the Bulldog points in that stretch did not come in the painted area. Perhaps even more impressively in the run was the fact that six different Earle players scored, led by Marquise Brown’s six. Brown and teammate Treyvon Boyce each threw down dunks during the run and a Brown lay-up with 3:10 in the half gave Earle its first double-digit lead of the night. “The stops are a credit to our defense. I’ve always felt like you win games with defense,” Murray said of the long Earle run. “If you hold them to one shot, you can run out on it and your defense can become your offense.” The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 33-19. Earle pushed its lead to 55-33 after three quarters, and went ahead by 30 points when Boyce scored on a stickback with 1:32 left in the game. With the win, Earle moved to 29-4 on the season. The Bulldogs were led by Marcus Brown’s game-high 17 points, while brother Marquise added 13. Gerry Bohanon hit for 14 points, B.J. Murray scored 11 and Boyce tallied 10 points of his own. Marked Tree got 15 points from LaQuentin Miles, who scored 35 in the last meeting between the schools. No other Indian scored more than the six that Markel Perry Washington scored. State tournament notes: Earle will be a No. 1 seed in this season’s state tournament in Marmaduke. The Bulldogs will open their run at their eight hoops title in school history against KIPP Delta on Tuesday, March 1 at 2:30. Earle beat KIPP Delta earlier this season, but KIPP beat favored Clarendon to reach this season’s state tournament. If the Bulldogs should beat KIPP Delta, they would play on Thursday, March 3 at 8:30 p.m. against the winner of the Strong-Bigelow game. The other No. 1 seed on Earle’s side is Brinkley, who won the Class 2A-East regional tournament title.