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Lady Gators win tournament title
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A tough backcourt trap and an intense pressure defense enabled the Bulloch Academy Lady Gators to hold Thomas Jefferson Academy scoreless in the first half and roll to a 50-18 victory to win the championship game of the second annual Lady Gator Invitational basketball tournament Monday.
    “I thought it was a dominant defensive effort,” said Bulloch Academy coach Paul Webb. “We run a full-court man defense and a full-court zone trap. The difference so far this season has been that the girls are applying so much more pressure on the ball.”
    Twelve of the 14 Lady Gators scored in the lopsided win as Bulloch (2-0) took advantage of numerous turnovers caused by the stellar defensive play. Kinlsey Mallard, who was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, led Bulloch with eight points while Kaylee Lanier, Addie Reddick and Sally Smith had six each.
    “I think it’s obvious that we have more good players, which is going to create a lot of competition for playing time,” said Webb. “Everybody got into the action.”
    In the consolation game, Heritage Christian Academy of Brunswick ripped Curtis Baptist School of Augusta 54-26. Sarah McDonald turned a 23-point performance for Heritage.
    In the finale, Bulloch pounced on the Lady Jags with a swarming trap that kept them from getting past half court. Reddick had the opening bucket for BA, which was quickly followed by Mallard’s first two and a Lanier steal and layup.
    The quick Lady Gators continued to pressure TJA and took a 10-0 lead by the 3:46 mark.
    Webb sent his second five onto the court and the subs didn’t miss a beat on either offense or defense. Smith hit a 10-footer for a 12-0 lead and Heaven Hinton ended the quarter with a steal and a layup at the buzzer for a 16-0 lead.
    It was more of the same in the second quarter.
    Kate Anna Akins hit a pair of free throws at the 7:42 mark to give BA a 20-0 lead. When the Lady Jags were able to get the ball down court and take a shot, Bulloch was impressive on the boards.  
    “The girls boxed out real well tonight,” said Webb. “Actually, I noticed it in Thursday’s game. It’s so much better than it was last year. I guess it just comes from repetition.”
    Bulloch’s first five upped the advantage to 25-0 by the 3:52 mark then the second five came on, led by Smith and Kaylee Dennard, and tacked on 10 more points for an incredible 35-0 halftime lead.
    Thomas Jefferson finally got onto the board at the 7:10 mark of the third quarter on a Morgan Bridges layup and actually outscored BA 9-6 in the quarter. BA’s Abi Foy nailed a pair of free throws at the 2:39 mark to give Bulloch a 41-9 lead.
    In the fourth, TJA hit double digits with 6:20 left in the game when Molly Rachels hit one of two from the charity stripe.
    The Lady Gators take a well-deserved break for the Thanksgiving holidays.
    Both Bulloch boys’ and girls’ squads host Briarwood Academy on Nov. 29.