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Late surge lifts JMA past Gators

Late surge lifts JMA past Gators

Late surge lifts JMA past Gators

Bulloch Academy guard Ja’darius Smith...


    John Milledge Academy scored 10 unanswered points in the final 2:30 of the game to take a 61-52 victory over Bulloch Academy in GISA Region 4-AAA basketball action Saturday. The game had originally been scheduled for Tuesday night but extreme weather conditions caused the postponement.
    The Trojans (10-7, 3-3) held a 43-41 lead at the end of three quarters. Gator sophomore Hunter Perry sparked a momentum swing with an acrobatic rebound and putback at the 6:02 mark which saw Bulloch (9-12, 2-4) begin to control the game. He scored six of his team-high 15 points early in the quarter to help the Gators take a 52-51 lead with 2:49 remaining.
    But the Trojans (10-7, 3-3) picked up the pace defensively and hit two key buckets for a 55-52 lead with under a minute to play. From there, JMA hit 6-of-8 free throws with under 45 seconds to secure the win.
    In the girls’ game, the Lady Gators remain a perfect 5-0 in region play as they crushed the Lady Trojans 53-19. Junior Ashley Burke scored a game-high 16 points in a little over two quarters of work to help the BA girls improve their record to 23-1.
    In the finale, the Gators came back time and time again in the game, which resembled more of a street brawl at times.
    Quick from the tip, both squads raced up and down the floor at break-neck speed. JMA’s 2-2-1 trap took its toll on the Gators and the visitors took advantage of BA turnovers. Bulloch settled down late in the quarter and pulled back to within one, 16-15, at the buzzer. Senior Bill Sheppard scored six of his 12 points in the run.
    Both teams transitioned into zone defenses in the second quarter to slow the pace. Still, the Trojans showed their quickness. Freshman Andrew Prestwood pushed in a layup with 5:30 left for a 24-19 lead. He scored a game-high 21 points. Prestwood netted 11 points in the quarter, leading his squad to a nine-point lead. Senior Brandon Panfil contributed 16 on the night and was 8-of-10 from the charity stripe.
    But Bulloch mounted its comeback effort and finally pulled to within a bucket, 30-28, when senior Ivan Chen banked one in under the basket with 40 seconds left.
    Things got crazy in the final 30 seconds with fouls, technical fouls and steals, helping JMA take an eight point lead, 36-28. BA junior Smith Reeves sank a long three-pointer at the buzzer to cut the score to 36-31 at intermission. Reeves had eight.
    A very aggressive third quarter saw the Gators outpoint the visitors 10-7 to be down by just a basket, 43-41, at the horn.
    In the opener, the Lady Trojans (6-9, 2-2) used a tricky 3-2 zone in the opening quarter to thwart Bulloch’s inside game. The BA girls were tough inside and the trademark press and man defense caused JMA turnovers but the Lady Gators couldn’t convert early. BA went 3-for-8 from the free-throw line.
    But the home team got back on track in the final minutes and were able to take a 16-5 lead by the buzzer.
    Things started clicking in the second quarter as BA big girls senior Chelsea Oglesby, junior Pate Lomax and freshman Mikay Sands dominated the middle. Burke heated up as well, scoring 12 points to lead Bulloch to a 41-9 halftime lead. Oglesby added nine points while both Lomax and Sands had four each.
    JMA came out strong defensively in the third but BA senior guards Brooke Gilbert and Danielle Atkinson righted the ship. Bulloch took a 48-17 lead after three.
    Bulloch hosts arch-rival Pinewood Christian Tuesday night.
    The region battle begins at 6 p.m. The Gators take to the highway for the rest of the week, visiting Bethesda in Savannah on Thursday for a boys-only matchup and traveling to Augusta Friday to tangle with Curtis Baptist.

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