PITT 8 PREVIEW: Bulldogs have strength in numbers, defensive grit

DEREK HATRIDGE | Staff photoThe Savanna Bulldogs are a gritty defensive team with strength in numbers.

Matt Murdaugh looked upon his blue-and-white clad team and excitedly talked about how hard his team has worked this season.

“I feel like they’ve really bought in defensively, even going back to last year. We’re getting some guys back that’re grinders, they work hard. That carried over for a lot of guys that played football that are on our basketball team,” Murdaugh said. “We’ve got some new guys that’s come from K-8 schools — Krebs, Haywood, Frink — and they’re buying into it and follow in. I really like what I’m seeing.”

The Bulldogs have had their share of ups and downs stemming from the effects of COVID-19.

But Murdaugh said they’ve met each and every challenge head on, and are eager to learn each time they hit the hardwood.

“We’re just like everybody else right now — ups and downs, we’ve faced adversity. But I really love our guys,” Murdaugh said. “We’ve got a group of guys that play hard, man. They battle. They try to do what we ask them to do. They’re a fun group to be around.”

The Bulldogs are filled to the brim with names on their roster, so they’ve been able to field both variety and junior variety teams throughout the season. Murdaugh said it’s exciting when you have numbers like he does this season.

Murdaugh described his team as a “gritty group defensively,” while also saying they want to feed the ball down low offensively. He pointed out his big three in Tucker McBane, Cayden McElhaney, and Ty Hoffman, while also propping up other playmakers such as Duegray Soles and Ayden Fry.

“Some of them young guys are learning from these older guys’ mistakes, and we’ve got a lot of mentoring going on,” Murdaugh said. “I’m really pleased with that…we can grow and build that camaraderie with one another"

As the Pitt 8 Conference Tournament looms ahead, Murdaugh said this is one of the most competitive years he’s seen in the tournament. He did however identify the team he thinks will be the top to try to beat this season.

“Stuart’s the team to beat in the boys side. They’re a good ball club, and coach (Michael) Langely does a good job with them,” Murdaugh said. “To be honest with you, top to bottom, I think the Pitt 8 is pretty even.

"Stuart’s at the top, but Indianola’s much improved, Crowder does a great job, Pittsburg is right there — probably the next team everybody needs to watch out for,” he added. "Pittsburg and Stuart are the two everybody needs to look out for, but I think everybody else is probably pretty close.”

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com.

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