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Lady Gators whip Curtis Baptist
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     new basketball season may mean a leaner and meaner look for the Bulloch Academy Lady Gators.
    “You can tell the skill level has improved,” said head coach Paul Webb after his girls whipped Curtis Baptist 63-21 in the opening round of the Lady Gator Classic Thursday night. “They are a year older. They are stronger, more mature and have more confidence.”
    Kinsley Mallard had a career-high 13 points, Kaylee Lanier added 12 and Addie Reddick had 10 as the Bulloch girls rolled off 38 first-half points in the runaway win.
    Bulloch (1-0) will meet Thomas Jefferson Academy on Monday at 7:30 p.m. in the championship game of the second annual tournament. The Lady Jaguars downed Heritage Christian 36-21 in the opening game. Curtis Baptist and Heritage will meet at 6 p.m. in the consolation game.
    “I thought our girls really scrapped hard and played well,” said Webb. “It’s hard to single out one because they all did so well.”
    The Lady Gators jumped on the Lady Crusaders early, with a fast-paced, uptempo game and an in-your-face man defense. Kate Anna Akins got the starting nod at point guard and hit Bulloch’s first two points of the season as she nailed two free throws at the 6:46 mark of the opening quarter.
    A quick backcourt press netted numerous Curtis Baptist turnovers. Bulloch converted them into easy points and took a 10-2 lead midway through the quarter. Webb subbed in his second five and they promptly increased the lead to 15-4 by the end of the quarter
    BA’s first five bore down on the Lady Crusaders in the second. Quick-handed Reddick and Kelcie Jacobs batted balls away from CB players left and right. Abi Foy, the team’s lone senior, showed her knack for anticipating opponents’ passes, breaking on them and then intercepting balls. Foy had six points on the night, as did both Akins and Sally Smith.
    “We had 31 steals tonight,” said Webb. “That’s the most we’ve had in two seasons.”
    Lanier gave the Lady Gators a 20-point lead, 25-5, midway through the quarter. Mallard ended the BA run with a layup with 20 seconds left in the half to give Bulloch a 38-7 lead.
    In the third, Bulloch increased its lead to 44-7. Webb then shuffled all 15 of his players on the court. CB’s Jasmine Griffin, who led the Lady Crusaders with eight points, put Curtis Baptist in double figures midway through the quarter. At the end of the eight minutes, the Lady Gators had a 52-17 advantage.
    The basketball mercy rule took effect in the final quarter as the fourth quarter was shortened to six minutes. Still, Mallard hit the back end of a two-shot free throw to give BA a 40-point lead, 57-17, at the 4:34 mark.
In the opener, Morgan Bridges scored 11 points and Molly Rachels added seven to pace the Lady Jags. Thomas Jefferson (1-0) outpointed Heritage 12-4 in the second quarter to take a 21-8 halftime lead.
    The Lady Eagles (1-1) put a fourth-quarter scare into TJA, narrowing the gap to eight, 28-21, with two minutes left. But Thomas Jefferson went on a 7-0 run to secure the win.