Bulloch Academy senior Pierless Brown surpassed the 1,000 point mark in dramatic fashion with a three pointer at the buzzer to end the first quarter, but the drama was far from over, as the Gators had to hang on to knock off a pesky Westfield squad 59-53.
“It’s a region game, and since we’ve won four straight region titles we should know we are getting everyone's best game,” said Bulloch Academy coach Chance Cofield. “We need to come out more aggressively on the defensive end.”
Brown needed only 6 points to surpass the 1,000 point plateau, and after scoring a couple baskets midway through the first he dribbled down the clock at the end of the quarter, and then pulled up for a three that fell in as the buzzer sounded and the crowd erupted.
“Pierless has worked very hard for that honor,” said Cofield. “I am very proud of him as a young man, and a basketball player. He has spent hours in the gym and at home working on his game, and he deserves everything that he accomplishes.”
Westfield came into Gator Alley with a record below .500 while the Gators have an impressive 14-1 record, but someone forgot to tell the Hornets they were supposed to lay down, and they put up quite a battle.
Trailing the Hornets 12-8 the Gators went on a 14-0 run. A three pointer by Thomas Childs was followed by a Matt Childers layup for a 22-12 Gator lead.
The Hornets scrapped back in the second quarter. Westfield guard J.B. Bearden hit back to back three pointers, and pulled the Hornets to within three at 35-32. The Gators would hold on for a 37-33 halftime lead.
The game continued to go back in forth in the second half. Brown would find himself in foul trouble, and the Gators played most of the second half without him.
Westfield continued to hang around, and would eventually retake the lead at 47-46 midway through the fourth on a three pointer by Will Young.
The Gators then got a spark from freshman Rodney Hill. Hill launched a three pointer from the elbow that fell though for a 47-46 Gator lead. Hill then streaked past the Hornet defense for a layup to extend the lead to 51-47.
The game would eventually come down to free throws. The Hornets missed the front end of back to back one-and-ones that could have tied the game both times. The Gators meanwhile hit 8-9 including 6-6 from the charity stripe by senior Don Aaron.
“Don Aaon was huge at the line for us,” Cofield said. “This was good for us to get us focused for tomorrow night, as we know Pinewood is a hostile environment to play in.”
Aaron led the way for Bulloch Academy with 17 points, while Brown added 14. Westfield was led by Bearden with 12 points.
Lady Gators 54, Westfield 34
Six members of the Bulloch Academy basketball team, also play on the Gator softball team. The Gators lost to Westfield in the state championship in October. Friday those six were able to get a little revenge against the Hornets as they trounced Westfield 54-34 Friday night.
Many of the same girls they saw celebrating a few months ago in Macon walked off the court with their heads down as a very focused group of Gators played one of their best games of the season Friday at Gator Alley.
“Our girls were definitely fired up for playing Westfield,” said Bulloch Academy coach Beth Burke. “They really gave it all they had tonight. Our effort was fantastic.”
The Hornets hung around for most of the first quarter, but Abby Newton helped the Gators start to pull saw with back to back three pointers to extend the lead to 14-6.
Kacie Ricketts added back to back three pointers herself, that was followed by a Newton off balance layup that extended the lead to 26-10. Bulloch Academy would continue to pour it on as they grabbed a 35-14 halftime lead.
In the second half it was much the same, with a couple more softball players coming up with big plays. Leah Williford played solid defense and came up with seven second half points, while Regan Ellis added 10 points including a tough basket in the third as she got knocked to floor.
Ricketts added the dagger with a three pointer from the corner at the buzzer - part of her 11 points - as Bulloch Academy took a 46-25 lead after three quarters of play and went on for a 20 point victory.
“We ran the floor, and I feel like we out hustled them tonight,” Burke said. “Kacie and Abby hit some clutch three pointers for us to help pull away in the first half. I hope we can get this same focus tomorrow at Pinewood.”
Newton led the way with 16 points, Ricketts had 11, and Ellis had 10. Westfield was led by Emma Williams with 11 points. The Gators improve to 11-5 overall and 3-0 in region play. Up next the Gators travel to Pinewood Saturday for a 6:00 tip off.