The Bulloch Academy Gators split a doubleheader with Westminster Tuesday night at Gator Alley. The girls won the opener 44-29 behind 12 points from Kacie Ricketts. The boys were unable to complete the sweep as they lost a heartbreaker 46-45 in overtime.
The Gator boys were in search of their first win of the season, but were only able to muster one basket in the 4:00 overtime session and ended up losing by a single point. The Gator scored their lone basket with 2.9 seconds left in overtime on a Miller Pope putback. Westminster was able to inbound the ball, and the Gators failed to foul before time ran out.
“I feel like we are starting to improve,” said Bulloch Academy coach Chance Cofield. “We are still trying to work our football players into basketball shape. I feel like we should have an advantage in the post with our taller players, but we need to do a better job of executing and getting points inside.”
The Gators trailed for most of the game, but were able to keep things close throughout. The Gators lack of an outside shooting threat forced them to penetrate for most of their points, and they were successful at times.
The Gators scrapped back from an eight point second quarter deficit to get within two points on a Bo Spence layup before the buzzer. Spence’s basket cut the Wildcat lead to 34-32 at the half.
The contest would go back and forth the entire second half. Cam Harrison tied the game with a layup early in the third, and tied it again in the fourth with a free throw shot at 41-41. Weston Boyd gave the Gators a short lived two point lead at 43-41 with 1:45 to go in the game.
The Wildcats tied the game with 22 seconds remaining on a layup by Devin Story. The Gators had a couple of chances to win, but were unable to hit a pair of shots in the paint, sending the game to overtime.
In overtime the Wildcats scored their only points from the free throw line. Story hit a pair of free throws in the opening seconds of OT. The Wildcats missed the front end of a pair of one-and-one opportunities, but finally hit a free throw with under a minute to go to take a three point lead.
The Gators had their chances to score in overtime, but with less than 30 seconds to go Bulloch Academy seemed content to try a three pointer instead of driving for a layup and taking their chances on the other end.
Freshman Bryce Clifton finally fired a corner three with about six seconds left, Miller Pope grabbed the rebound and hit the putback with less than three seconds to go, but that would be the way things ended as the Gators failed to foul on the inbounds play.
The Gators connected on only one three pointer the entire game, while Westminster had seven three pointers in the contest.
“We definitely need to work on our shooting,” Cofiedl said. “We should be getting Rodney Hill back soon, and he will help us a lot, but we still need to improve our shooting.”
Bulloch was led by Chas Collins with 12 points, while Harrison added 11 points. Story and Chris Hart each had 13 points for the Wildcats.
In the Girls game Bulloch Academy came out on fire, and then coasted the rest of the way with a comfortable lead. The Lady Gators got a balanced scoring attack as Kacie Ricketts led the way with 12 points, while Abby Newton and Leah Williford each chipped in with 10 points a piece in their 44-29 victory.
Newton made as immediate impact in her season debut in the starting lineup. Newton missed the early part of the season recovering from a hamstring injury. She started the game off hot from outside burying a pair of three pointers, and helping the Gators race out to a 15-2 first quarter lead.
“Abby came back tonight and was playing her normal position,” said Bulloch coach Chandler Dennard. “That moves leah Williford back from point guard, and sets off a domino effect. This is a point guard’s game, and we are lucky to have someone like Abby who can handle the ball. She has been playing with the varsity since the eighth grade, and she’s a great asset.”
The Gators struggled to score for most of the second quarter. Westminster outscored them 7-0 before the Gators scored six straight to end the half, and Bulloch Academy took a 21-9 halftime lead.
Ricketts helped propel the Gators in the second half as she scored 10 of her 12 points in the second half. The Gators pulled away late, and would go on for the 15 point victory.
“We have to learn how to execute better.” Dennard said. “We are working with new chemistry now that Abby is back, and once we do that we will be fine. When we executed correctly tonight we got a wide open layups.”
The Lady Gators improve to a perfect 6-0 on the season. Up next Bulloch Academy takes on Memorial Day on Saturday at the RTCA coaches vs. cancer tournament starting at 4:00. The Gator boys play Citizens Christian at 10 p.m.