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Gators nail Knights, advance to title game
GATORS 6 col bw
Bulloch Academy’s Jordan Walker shoots a runner over a Frederica Academy defender Friday night in the semifinals of the GISA region 2-AA tournament while Will Powell looks on. The Gators won 73-54 to advance to today’s championship game at 8:30 p.m. at BA. - photo by KATHERINE KENNEDY/Staff
    Both the Bulloch Academy boys’ and girls’ basketball teams will be playing for region championships tonight as the GISA Region 2-AA tournament concludes in the Gators’ gym.
    The top-seeded Bulloch boys steamrolled fourth-seeded Frederica Academy 73-54 in Friday night’s semifinal contest to advance to the title game. The third-seeded Lady Gators upset the second-seeded Lady Knights 49-32 to get the chance to play for the championship.
    The Bulloch girls will take on top-seeded Trinity Christian School, a 78-34 winner over Edmund Burke Academy Friday night, in tonight’s 7 p.m. title tilt. The Gators will tangle with the second-seeded Trinity boys, who slipped by Memorial Day School 50-48, in the 8:30 p.m. championship contest.
    In girls’ consolation action, which begins at 4 p.m., the Lady Spartans face the Lady Knights while the Knights face Memorial at 5:30 p.m. in boys’ consolation action.
    The Bulloch boys (12-13) found it tough going against Frederica (4-20) early. But Dartavious Brown had quick back-to-back steals and layups midway through the first to put the Gators up 8-3. Will Powell then hit the first of his three three-point baskets as the BA lead grew and became 12-5 after the opening eight minutes. Powell had a game-high 24 points to pace the Gators.
    After a sloppy few minutes in the second quarter, Bulloch’s offense shifted into high gear. The Gator defense shut down Frederica while BA went on a 7-2 run to take a 19-7 lead. But the Knights used a good backcourt press to keep the pressure on the BA ball handlers. Turnovers looked to make the game tight but the Gators righted their badly listing ship. Still, the Knights wouldn’t go belly up and held firm. Bulloch had a 32-21 lead at the half.
    In the third, Bulloch maintained its double-digit lead, but it was a struggle. Three-point shots rained down upon the Gators as Frederica nailed five of their 10. Then, Grayson Mitchell’s trey with under a minute cut the BA lead to eight, 50-42.
    James Conner’s bucket and foul shot at the 7:12 mark of the fourth quarter seemed to provide a spark for the Gators. Conner, who had 17 points, helped BA go on a 12-1 run to take a commanding 64-43 lead with under four minutes left in the game. Bulloch substituted freely in the remaining minutes.
    Wil Hall added eight for BA while Jordan Walker had seven. For Frederica, Grayson Mitchell scored a team-high 15 and Clayton Heery added 11.
    In the Bulloch-Frederica girls’ matchup, the Lady Gators proved just how ferocious a Gator can be when it is defending its home turf.
    Bulloch (12-15) played an up-tempo game and jumped out to a 7-0 lead at the 5:21 mark of the first quarter. Kaylee Lanier had two of her nine points as BA extended the lead to 9-0. Frederica didn’t get on the scoreboard until Meg Dismer hit two free throws with 3:39 left. Kacie Lanier’s trey, one of her five on the night and 17 points overall, gave BA a 12-2 lead.
    Frederica (11-8) stormed back and cut the lead to one but Abi Foy’s put-back at the buzzer gave the Lady Gators a 16-13 lead.
    The BA girls came out like hard and fast in the second as the Lanier girls hit back-to-back shots. But this time, Frederica had no answer for the quick and aggressive Lady Gators. Bulloch contained FA’s quick point guard Morgan Brian and held Dismer to just 12 points.
Bulloch’s ‘small’ forwards (Kaylee Lanier, Addie Reddick, Heaven Hinton and Kinsley Mallard) worked hard to limit FA rebounds while getting superior position under the basket on the Lady Knights.  Incredibly, Bulloch outscored the Lady Knights 18-2 in the quarter to take a mammoth 34-15 halftime lead.
    The third was a defensive quarter as the squad combined for just 13 points. But Bulloch held onto its lead and had a 39-23 advantage going into the final quarter.