Going 2-0 in the final full week of the regular season, the Empire Bulldogs won the Xpress Wellness Team of the Week after beating Elmore City-Pernell and Healdton.
The Bulldogs won 65-51 over Healdton by taking the lead early with Jackson Smith hitting three long range shots while Connor Francis, McRay Weber and Noel Sariemento scored a bucket to lead 16-8 after one quarter of play.
Both teams played an even second quarter with both teams scoring 18 points. Empire got seven points from Weber and five points from Francis while Daniel Alvarez joined in the scoring with two short range buckets.
Leading 34-26 at halftime, Healdton cut into the lead in the third quarter of play as Alvarez had six of the 11 points and Empire was outscored 16-11 but still held the 45-42 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
Empire had their best quarter in the fourth as Alvarez and Weber both had six points apiece while Smith and Francis both hit a long range shot and Sariemento hit his final points of the game.
Four players for Empire were in double figures as Smith and Alvarez both had 16 apiece while Weber had 15 and Francis had 14 points with Sariemento scoring the other four points.
The last game of the week was against the Badgers with the Bulldogs winning 65-59.
Alvarez had eight points while Chase Couch had two baskets to help Empire take the 20-19 lead after one quarter of play.
Weber had two buckets while two three baskets came from Miller and Francis in the second quarter and the Bulldogs led 33-28 going into the second half of play.
Adding to the lead in the third quarter, the Bulldogs got baskets from Alvarez, Weber, Smith and Francis to lead 48-41 at the end of three quarters of play.
Francis was able to hit three long range shots with the rest of Empire’s points coming on the free throw line and Empire was able to hold on to the victory winning their second game of the week.
Francis had 21 points, Alvarez had 15 points, Weber had 14 points, Smith had eight, Couch had four and Miller had three.
The Bulldogs head coach Braden Hill, who is in his first year with the team, said that winning team of the week has been because of the hard work the team put in.
“It’s a nice accomplishment! The boys have worked extremely hard, and been very disciplined,” Hill said. “They deserve it! I’m very proud of them.”
Playing in their final game of the regular season, the playoffs start this week for the Bulldogs as they face Bray-Doyle Donkeys starting at 8 p.m. Friday Feb. 14 at Fletcher High School.