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Bulloch sweeps JMA on Senior Night

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Bulloch sweeps JMA on Senior Night

Bulloch Academy's Anna Newton hits a jumper in the Lady Gators' 55-50 win Tuesday against John Milledge.

    Since late December, Bulloch Academy senior guard Forest Spence has seemed to make it his mission to shoulder the load.
    After two fellow seniors went down with injuries, the humble Spence has played with reckless abandon each time he’s touched the court. Tuesday night was no exception as he scored a career-high 26 points in the Bulloch’s final home game to lead the Gators to a 58-45 win over John Milledge Academy in GISA Region 4-AAA action.
 Senior Themba Twala, in his first game back from a dislocated shoulder, added 12 in the first of three pivotal region games this week which will determine seeding for next week’s region tournament.
    The Gator girls punched their ticket to a top seed with a 55-50 victory over the Lady Trojans.
    Senior Anna Newton netted 15 points while junior Chelsea Oglesby and sophomore Ashley Burke chipped in 10 each. With the win, the Lady Gators improve to 22-3 overall and a perfect 7-0 in region play.
    In the girls’ game, John Milledge raced out of the locker room in the first quarter behind the cat-quick Kelsey Chambers and the aggressive Mollie Ritchie. Ritchie scored a game-high 19 points while Chambers added 10.
    But the ‘power line-up’ of Newton, Oglesby and sophomore Pate Lomax, combined with the great guard defense of Burke and seniors Lauren Dennard, Mary Margaret Reeves and Marianna Peebles, helped turn the tide. Both Newton and Burke netted six each to lead BA to a 20-13 lead at the buzzer.
    Newton, Oglesby and Lomax were beasts on the boards in the second quarter as the Lady Gator defense created chaos in the JMA backcourt. Oglesby had two put backs within 20 seconds of each other to give Bulloch a 27-13 lead at the 5:26 mark.
    John Milledge reversed tactics and played a slow-down game. At the same time, Bulloch’s shooting went cold. The Lady Trojans inched closer.
But BA warmed late in the quarter. Burke drilled three free throws with .9 seconds left to put her girls up 34-24 at the half.
    Ritchie tried to take control in the third, scoring eight quick points. Newton and Oglesby battled her hard down low. Bulloch held a 48-37 lead at the buzzer.
    JMA came on strong in the fourth, cutting the lead to eight early. Kristin McCoy, who had 11 points on the night, had an old-fashioned three-point play with 3:56 left to cut the lead to five, 50-45.
    The Lady Gators held their ground on defense and were ahead 55-47 with seconds to play when Chambers let fly a half-court bomb which zipped through the net as the buzzer sounded.
    In the boys’ game, Spence drilled two three-pointers and pushed in a driving layup to open the game and excite the boisterous crowd. But JMA’s Brantley Attaway retaliated with seven points of his own. Bulloch took a 15-8 lead at the end of one.
    Spence opened the second quarter with another trey to pull the Gators to an 18-8 advantage.
Then it was time for the show to begin.
Spence was marvelous on offense but his supporting cast of Twala, sophomore Smith Reeves, fellow senior Bailey Smith and junior twin brothers Bill and Matt Sheppard played superb defense. JMA turnovers and missed shots turned into Gator points as BA outscored the visitors 16-4 the remainder of the quarter.
    Reeves nailed a three-ball and added a three-point play. Matt Sheppard stuck to Trojan ball handler David Youngblood like a tick on a bird dog and the BA defenders even shut down Attaway, who only had two points in the quarter. Bulloch took a 34-12 halftime advantage.
In the third quarter, the battle ever slowly tipped to the visitors as they outscored Bulloch 19-14.
    In the fourth, JMA kept coming and eventually cut the BA lead to 11, 52-41, when Attaway canned a pair from the free-throw line with 3:25 left. He was 11-of-13 on the night. 
    The Gators played keep away down the stretch and eventually ran out the clock for the victory.
    In the earlier girls’ b-team game, Mimi Rosenberger netted 11 points to lead Bulloch to a 34-9 win over the Lady Trojans.
Between the varsity games, the school honored 16 senior winter sports student-athletes and their parents. Those were wrestlers Mitchell Smith, Asa Johnson and John Gowan, cheerleaders Adeana Brinson, Kittie Lee, Merrill Nelson, Maggie Hodges and Allison Anderson and basketball players Spence, Twala, Smith, Chandler Maxwell, Reeves, Newton, Dennard and Peebles.

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