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Lady Gators open season
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    The Bulloch Academy varsity girls’ basketball team kicks off its 2007-08 season tonight by hosting the second annual Lady Gator Classic.
    Bulloch will take on Augusta’s Curtis Baptist High School at 7:30 p.m. in the tournament’s finale. Heritage Christian Academy from Brunswick and Thomas Jefferson Academy from Louisville square off in the first game at 6 p.m. The tournament continues on Monday with the consolation game at 6 p.m. and the championship tilt at 7:30 p.m.
    Last year, the Lady Gators placed second in the four-team tournament and went on to have a 13-win season, finished second in GISA Region 2-AA and played in the GISA Class AA state tournament at Middle Georgia College in Cochran, winning their first-round contest.
    With just one senior (Kacie Lanier) missing from last year’s squad and a host of returners, one would think that this season’s team would be in a position to run the table on its peers.
    But the red-haired All-Region and All-State player, who is now a freshman at the University of Georgia, was Bulloch’s ball handler, leading three-point shooter (48 of 140) and leading scorer (251 points). Those are three positions where Bulloch Academy head coach Paul Webb is desperately hoping for one of his players to step up to the challenge.
    “Kacie will be hard to replace,” said Webb. “People vying for playing time at the point position will be Kaylee Dennard, Rachel Gilbert and Kate Anna Akins. Abi Foy may even see some time at that position until someone rises above the rest.”
    Dennard, Gilbert and Foy either started or saw considerable playing time last season. Akins was injured in pre-season workouts and did not participate during the season. All four are feisty competitors who fit into Webb’s style of play.
    “I really like this team,” he said. “They have great attitudes and play with a lot of hustle and grit.”
    Returners Kaylee Lanier, Addie Reddick and Heaven Hinton are the epitome of Webb’s philosophy and he is looking for big things from this trio.
    Reddick was the team’s second-leading scorer (217), Lanier was third (177) and Hinton was fourth (96). Lanier led in total rebounds (174), Reddick was second (134) and Hinton was third (93). Reddick shot 64 percent from the free-throw line (67-of-104), Hinton hit 20 of 45 and Reddick was 41-for-96.
    Reddick led the team in steals (78) while Lanier was second with 73. Reddick was second in assists (55) and Lanier was third (25).   Both Lanier and Reddick were also named to the All-Region team.
    “I feel very good about every player on the team and their ability to contribute,” said Webb. “Every player that returns from last year’s team gained tremendous experience from their playing time and should be more confident in our system and in their own skills.”
    Other returners include Kelcie Jacobs, Sally Smith, Kinsley Mallard, Mary C. Spigener, Laynie Brown and Morgan Anderson. The Gators will also have a European flair as German exchange students Katharina Bode and Duygu Erodgan, both of whom have never played basketball before, join the squad.
    “We are again ‘young’ in terms of school grade with one senior, three juniors plus the two exchange students, eight sophomores and one freshman,” said Webb. “We will win games by ‘committee.’ By that I mean that our girls this year with be interchangeable. We will begin the season rotating players at will and utilizing the depth that we will have. I think one of the main keys to the season will be the maturity of the girls. By maturity, I mean the manner in which they handle adversity, success and the normal ups and downs of a season.”