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Gators split with Robert Toombs
BA Basketball
Bulloch Academy's Sophie Wall gets a bear hug from RTCA defender Ellie Graham during the second quarter on Friday, Jan. 8. - photo by By SCOTT BRYANT/staff

The Bulloch Academy Gators split with the visiting Robert Toombs Crusaders Friday night at Gator Alley with the girls winning 53-15 while the boys fell 79-66. The Lady Gators improve to 5-4 on the season while the boys fall to 4-5. 


The Bulloch Academy Lady Gators game with Robert Toombs started out slowly, as neither team scored a field goal until halfway through the first quarter. After that the Gators pressure defense finally got going as they went on a 13-0 run. A Sophie Strickland put back at the buzzer gave the Gators a 16-2 lead, and they never looked back. 


“I liked the effort we played with tonight,” said Coach Chandler Dennard. “We are such a young team, and sometimes we look really good and at others we look inexperienced. We players hard on defense all night, and that was the key, I didn’t feel like we shot the ball particularly well but we won the game with our defense tonight.”


The Gators started off the third quarter much the same way they did midway through the first. Pressure defense turned into Crusader turnovers, and the Gators outscored Robert Toombs 20-0. The Crusaders didn’t score their first points of the second half until the 4:45 mark of the third quarter.


“We are best when we are able to score and use our full-court press,” said Dennard. “I felt like we did a good job of that in the first and third quarters, and that’s what helped us pull away.”


Sophie Strickland led the Gators with 14 points and seven steals. Ansley Akins had six points for Robert Toombs.


Up next for the Gators they will travel to Calvary Day with the girls getting things underway at 4 p.m.



 Crusaders 79, Gators 66


Less than a month ago Bulloch Academy traveled to Robert Toombs and pounded the Crusaders by a score of 72-49. Friday night the Gators were missing a few key components from last month’s game, but the Crusaders had no mercy as they pulled away late and ended up beating the Gators 79-66.


Bulloch Academy was missing point guard Ryan Swanson and Coach Chance Cofield, who was ejected from the Gators game Tuesday at Trinity. Swanson’s absence was notable as the Gators had issues with turnovers throughout the game, but it was in the paint where the Crusaders really did their damage.


The one-two punch of M.K. McBride (30 points) and Justin Walker (24 points) proved to be the difference in the game as the two combined for 54 of the Crusaders 72 points. Both were key in a 9-0 run late in the fourth quarter that sealed the deal for Robert Toombs.


“We took the lead at 57-56, and then turnovers and easy baskets really hurt us,” said coach Anthony Gore. “Missing a coach and a key player didn’t help us, but we still needed to get the job tonight and we didn’t. We need to do a better job inside of getting our hands up and holding our ground. We got in some foul trouble tonight for being out of position and reaching. We also need to do a lot better job of boxing out and rebounding. Overall, we had good effort but we have a few things to work on.”


The game went back and forth throughout the game half which saw seven ties and eight different lead changes. The Gators trailed 23-18 after the first quarter, but outscored the Crusaders 21-17 in the second quarter to trail 40-39 at the half. 


The back-and-forth game continued in the second half. The Crusaders went on a 8-0 run to take a 55-44 lead, but the Gators stormed right back and actually led 55-54 at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth the Crusaders got a layup and a dunk by McBride to extend their lead to five. The Gators came back to cut the lead to three, but late in the fourth a 9-0 run put the game out of reach.


On senior night the Gators were led by seniors Kam Harrison and Bop Spence who each finished with 18 points.

 

Elsewhere the Portal Panthers split a pair of games at home against Bryan County. The boys won 79-44 to improve to 9-4 on the season while the girls lost 43-29 to fall to 2-7. For the boys Joseph Thomas had 23 points, while Elijah Coleman added 21. Destiny Brown had nine points to lead the Lady Panthers. Up next Portal travels to Claxton for a 5:00 tip off Saturday.