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Kings of the region
Bulloch Academy wins first crown since 1992
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Bulloch Academy sophomore Dartavious Brown takes the ball to the hoop for a score against Trinity’s Viktor Wronowski during Saturday’s GISA region 2-AA tournament championship game.
    It’s something that hasn’t happened in 15 years.
    The Bulloch Academy boys overcame a slow-down game by Trinity Christian School and stayed focused to take a 35-16 victory in the championship game of the GISA Region 2-AA basketball tournament Saturday and win their first region title since 1992.
    “Anytime hard work is rewarded, it’s great,” said BA head coach Chandler Dennard. “I was real proud of the guys. They have laid a great foundation for Bulloch Academy basketball and now they know that they can win the big ones like this.”
    Trophy presentations for Bulloch Academy varsity basketball have been few and far between, according to Dennard.
    “It’s kind of funny,” he said. “When we huddled up at the end of the game, they said they felt awkward because they didn’t know how to act like winners. I had to walk them through cutting down the net.”
    The Trinity Christian Lady Crusaders won the earlier girls’ championship but not without a first-half fight from the Bulloch girls.
    In the consolation games, Edmund Burke’s Lady Spartans stunned Frederica 44-39 to finish third in the tournament while the Memorial Day School boys’ hung on against Frederica 50-46. All four boys’ and girls’ teams advance to the first round of the GISA Class AA state basketball tournament next week at Middle Georgia College in Cochran.
    In the boys’ title tilt, the Crusaders came out with a new game plan against Bulloch.
    “We had been fortunate to beat them pretty good both times we faced them so Coach (Chuck) Carson decided to do something different,” said Dennard. “They rotate six where we rotate nine. He knew he didn’t have the depth to play our game so he slowed it down so we would have to play his.”
    The Crusaders (13-9) played a four-corners type offense which moved the ball around the perimeter and ate time off the clock. Two layups off of steals by BA’s Dartavious Brown and two foul shots by Mark Rocker was all the scoring in the first eight minutes.
    Things heated up a little more in the second as the squads got aggressive and physical. Still, a Will Powell three-point play with 2:07 left put the score at just 10-4. Bulloch took a 12-5 halftime lead.
    “We did a good job keeping our composure,” said Dennard. “The guys were didn’t get antsy and frustrated but were real methodical in their approach to Trinity’s style of play.”
    The Gators (13-13) went up by 10, 19-9, at the end the third quarter. BA did a little “slow-down offense” of its own and Hall hit a mid-range jumper as the buzzer sounded. Rocker started the fourth with a trey and a put-back to give the Gators a 24-9 lead.
    “Those seven points changed the momentum of the game,” said Denanrd. “We’ve talked about coming off the bench and being ready to play when called upon. Mark stepped up big right there.”
    Rocker led the Gators with seven points while both Brown and Hall had six each. The Gators outscored Trinity 16-7 in the fourth for the victory.
    In the girls’ championship game, the Lady Gators, coming off an emotional upset of Frederica Friday night, took the fight to the Lady Crusaders in the opening quarter.
    BA forwards Kaylee Lanier, Addie Reddick, Heaven Hinton and Kinsley Mallard pushed and shoved and battled with Trinity’s Bliss McMichael and Laine Hobbs. The quickness of the Lady Gators helped them take an early lead when Lanier banked one off the glass with 3:20 left in the opening quarter. Hinton led Bulloch with seven points on the night while Lanier had six.  Still, TCS took an 8-6 lead after the buzzer.
    Hinton knotted the score with the opening basket of the second quarter as the squads faced off with tough and physical in-your-face defense. But the pace began to get the better of the Lady Gators as forced and unforced turnovers hurt BA. Trinity began to creep out to a lead. Hobbs drilled two free throws with 1.8 left in the half for a 16-10 edge. Hobbs led Trinity with 10 while Trini Greiner and Anna Claire Knight added eight each.
    Trinity came out loaded in the third quarter and outscored Bulloch 13-4 to take a 29-14 lead when the horn sounded. The Lady Crusaders utilized their height advantage to get multiple put-back shots in the lane.
    The Lady Crusaders went on a 6-0 run early in the fourth to take a 35-14 advantage and major substitutions came with the 21-point lead.