Bradford is key for Dutch
BY BARRY LEWIS World Sports Writer
Monday, February 04, 2013
2/04/13 at 4:01 AM
Holland Hall coach Brandon Maddux refers to junior guard JaJuan Bradford as "a difference maker."
Bradford's recent return from an ankle injury has given the Dutch a boost as they try to qualify for the Southwest Preparatory Conference Division I tournament on Feb. 15-16.
On Saturday, Bradford sank two free throws with one second left to lift the Dutch over Dallas Greenhill 43-42.
It was a swift change in fortune for Bradford, who missed two free throws with six seconds left in a 39-38 overtime loss to rival Cascia Hall last Tuesday.
"I was really nervous. I wanted to get this win for our seniors' last home game," Bradford said. "I was thinking 'don't miss, don't miss.'
"On the first free throw, when it hit the back of the rim, I was like 'No' and then it went in. What a relief. In a way, I got to redeem myself."
Zack Rogers, a 6-foot-6 senior who is the team's leading scorer (12.5) and rebounder (6.5), led the Dutch with 16 points.
"It was awesome to see it happen for him and for the rest of team," Rogers said.
The Dutch improved to 12-11 overall and 3-3 in the SPC. Holland Hall was 3-6 without Bradford.
"He's a game changer, no doubt about it," Rogers said. "He changes the tempo of the game and on the defensive end he's a lock-down D - a great player for us."
Bradford is the Dutch's assists leader at 3.3 per game and second-leading scorer at 7.9 points. He had six points against Greenhill.
"For us to get where we want to be, he's got to continue to get better," said Maddux, who was an assistant on Union's undefeated Class 6A state champions last year. "We didn't finish like we wanted to after being up 39-32 (with 2:30 left). JaJuan made some mistakes, but he wasn't the only one. You have to tip your hat to him making those free throws. That's a testament to his mental toughness."
The Dutch close the regular season with three road games this week that will determine whether they play in the Division I or Division II tournament.
Holland Hall, which was 8-17 last year and did not qualify for the D-I tournament, has not won the SPC boys championship since 2003.
"It was so important," Rogers said about Saturday's win. "We had been talking about getting one of the wins we weren't supposed to get, and we finally got one under our belts."
Barry Lewis 918-581-8393