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Bulloch splits region doubleheader
Bulloch Academy guard Rodney Hill goes in for two of his 21 points in the second half of the Gators region matchup at home Friday night against Westfield. - photo by JOSH AUBREY

The Bulloch Academy Gators split a region doubleheader at home Friday night. The Gator boys avenged an earlier loss to Westfield by knocking off the Hornets 71-52, while the girls lost their first region game of the season by a score of 32-24.

The Gators welcomed back sophomore guard Rodney Hill to the lineup, and he made an instant impact. Hill scored 21 points, while fellow guard Bo Spence led the way with 22 points as the Gators knocked off Westfield 71-52.

“It was great to have Rodney Hill back in the lineup,” said Bulloch Academy coach Chance Cofield. “Our offense has been lacking a little speed, and tempo and I feel like Rodeny helped ignite us tonight.”

The backcourt of Hill and Spence accounted for 43 of the Gators points, much of which came on fastbreak opportunities. The Gator defense kept Westfield on the ropes most of the night, as the Hornets struggled from the field.

“Bo had a great game, and I think having Rodney back freed him up a little,” Cofield said. “With the two of them scoring from inside and out, that also helped free up Chas Collins, who had a really good second half.”

Collins was a force inside in the second half. Playing with his back to the basket the 6-7 junior had plenty of scoring opportunities as the Gators started taking advantage of his size advantage. Collins scored eight of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, allowing the Gators to pull away.

“We knew it was only a matter of time before we got Rodney back, and we could start to run a little more,” Cofield said. “We have been playing all season hoping to peak when the region tournament rolls around, and that’s what it looks like we are doing.”

The win improves the Gators record to 8-13 overall and 2-4 in region play. Spence led the Gators with 22 points, while Hill had 21 and Collins had 13. Braeden McDaniel had 13 points to lead the Hornets.

The Bulloch Academy girls have had a tough week with injuries, and illnesses. Friday night they paid the price as they lost their first region game of the season in a 32-24 loss to Westfield.

Leading scorer Kacie Rickets was out with an illness, fellow starter J.B. Marsh missed the game with an ankle injury. Senior guard Abby Newton continues to struggle with a hamstring injury, and fellow senior Regan Ellis has been nursing an ankle injury.

“We had two starters out, and two playing at about 70 percent,” said Bulloch coach Chandler Dennard.  “I was really proud of the effort out there tonight, we just couldn’t get it done, but it wasn’t because of the effort.”

Despite all the obstacles the Gators were faced with, they were still able to cut the Westfield lead to two late in the fourth quarter. The Gators started a run behind Newton who penetrated for a couple of baskets to cut into the lead. A Newton layup cut the lead to 26-24 with 4:30 left in the game. That would be the last points the Gators would score in the game. As Westfield closed things out on a 6-0 run.

“The fact that we cut the lead to two with about four minutes left tells you a lot about our team’s heart,” Dennard said. “We really struggled at the line tonight, but we played tough defense, and gave ourselves a chance.”

The Gators have a game with Augusta Prep at home Saturday night, and still have a couple region games remaining, but Dennard says there’s a chance he just lets his team get healthy with the region tournament less than two weeks away.

“I think I am going to rest everyone that is hurting tomorrow against Augusta Prep,” Dennard said. “We have a trip to Frederica coming up next week, and still have to go to Pinewood. I will just have to wait and see how things are, but what we need is to be as healthy as possible for the region tournament.”

Bulloch Academy falls to 18-4 overall and 5-1 in region play. The Gators were led by Newton with nine points. Avery Adams had 12 points to lead Westfield. Up next the Gators host Augusta Prep Saturday at 1:30.