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Gators notch home sweep over Trinity
BA Basketball
Bulloch Academy's Ryan Swanson, left, looks to dish off to a teammate after getting Trinity's Zach White in the air during a first quarter drive on Friday, Jan. 22.

Bulloch Academy head Coach Chance Cofield felt the Gators could be one of the best teams in GISA. After starting the season 4-1 the Gators lost six straight, but since getting point guard Ryan Swanson back in the lineup they’ve won three straight including an impressive 90-58 victory over Trinity.

“Having Ryan back in the lineup really helps everyone on the team,” said Cofield.. “As a team we are starting the click and play the kind of basketball I thought we were capable of. Miller Pope, Bo Spence and Rodney Hill all came through with big games.’

Earlier this month the Crusaders beat the Gators in Dubin 72-66, and in fact Trinity had beaten Bulloch Academy in the two teams last five meetings. One of those games was a 35-point victory against Bulloch Academy that the Gators felt the Crusaders ran up the score, so they felt it was nice to get some payback.

“Last year at home we felt like they ran up the score on us,” said Cofield. “I think that inspired our kids to really focus and get a little payback.”

The Gators started he game off hot from outside and built a 15-6 lead. The Crusaders stormed back though hitting a long three by Henry Williams at the buzzer to cut the lead to 21-20. In the second The Gators went on a 14-2 run and ended up outsourcing trinity 24-8 in the second for a 45-28 halftime lead.

In the second half it was more of the same for the Gators. Rodney Hill heated up from behind the arc for three deep three-pointers and finished the quarter with 11 points. Bo Spence paced the Gators in the fourth with six of his 23 points. 

Swanson added 22 points, and Hill had 20 points to pace the Gators. Bulloch Academy improves to 7-7 overall and 2-2 in region play.

Bulloch Academy Coach Chandler Dennard has been pleased with the way the Lady Gators have played this season but felt like they still haven’t played a complete game. Friday night he finally got what he was waiting for as the Gators strung together four solid quarters of basketball and handed Trinity a 66-42 defeat.

“This is probably the first time that we played a complete game from start to finish,” said Dennard. “We came out and played really well, Trinity made a run, but we withstood that run which speaks volumes for our senior leadership, and our young players improving. In the third quarter we did what good teams need to do and put them away.” 

The Gators jumped out to a 19-9 lead, but the Crusaders were able to go on a 10-2 run and cut the Gator lead to two on a basket inside by Audrey Foster. The Gators stormed back to close the half on an 11-0 run to take a 36-25 halftime lead. Ashantay Noble paced the Gators in the first half with 14 points, including 10 in the first quarter,

The Gators were able to extend their lead in the second half, thanks in large part to 10 made free throws in the third quarter. It could have been even bigger, but the Gators managed just 10-18 shooting from the line. The Gators extended the lead to 55-37 and were able to empty their bench with a comfortable lead midway through the fourth quarter. 

“The game plan was to attack, and they carried that out,” said Dennard. “Ashantay Nobles played her best game of the season, and she was an absolute beast in the first half. Our game is to keep attacking in the middle, and that’s what we did tonight.”

The Gators were led by Nobles with 18 points. Armani Cooke had 14 points, Sophie Strickland added 13 points and Leah Williford had 12 points. Trinity was led by Kardyn George with 15 points. The Gators improve their record to 8-6 overall and are now 4-0 in region play. Up next Bulloch Academy hosts Savannah Christian with the girls starting things off at 4:30 and the boys get things underway at 6:00.

The Portal Panthers split a pair of region games at home Friday night against McIntosh County Academy. The Panther boys knocked off the Buccaneers 72-53, and the girls dropped a 52-34 decision. The Panthers were led by Amir Jackson with 22, Joseph Thomas had 17 and Elijah Coleman had 16 points. and improve to 11-6 overall and 7-1 in region play. The girls were led by Shaneisha Coleman with nine points and are now 4-10 overall and 2-6 in region play. Up next Portal will host Montgomery County Tuesday at 6:00

The Statesboro Blue Devils region game with Bradwell scheduled for Friday night was ruled a forfeit as Bradwell opted to not come to Statesboro. The Blue Devil girls improve to 14-0 and 8-0 in region play. The Statesboro boys are now 12-2 overall and 7-1 in region play. 

Statesboro will play Southeast Bulloch in a boys only matchup Saturday at 6:00. Senior night will take place Saturday at 5:00. The Lee Hill Arena gym renaming ceremony which was scheduled for Friday will now take place Feb. 2 as the Blue Devils host Glynn Academy.

The Southeast Bulloch boys earned a win Friday night as Windsor Forest opted to not come to Brooklet for their scheduled game with the Yellow Jackets due to COVID concerns. Southeast Bulloch improves to 1-1 in region play and their next region game is scheduled for Monday at 6:00 at Savannah High.