Bulloch Academy seniors took the reins and drove their respective squads to sweet victories on Valentine’s Day in the final regular-season home game Friday night.
In the ‘Senior Night’ opener, Brooke Gilbert and Chelsea Oglesby scored 10 points each in a 30-4 first quarter scoring frenzy as the Lady Gators steamrolled Augusta Prep 65-17. Gilbert finished the night with 16 while Oglesby had 14.
The Bulloch girls made school history by winning their 27th game of the season. The BA girls also finished the Region 4-AAA schedule with a perfect 8-0 record to claim the top spot in next week’s region tournament.
In the finale, Ja’Darius Smith had a game-high 15 points, including two crucial three-pointers in overtime, as the Gators nipped the Cavaliers 51-50. Twin brothers Bill and Matt Sheppard added 12 and 11 points respectively and played superior defense in the dramatic win.
Augusta Prep (14-8, 6-4) held a comfortable six-point lead late in the fourth quarter when the brothers Sheppard decided to take matters into their own hands.
Matt Sheppard turned a back-court steal into a layup at the 1:48 mark to cut the lead to two. Bill then had his own steal on the next APS possession but was fouled and missed the free throws.
Bill Sheppard then hit a 10-footer with 36.2 left in regulation to knot the game at 43-43. He then grabbed the rebound as an Augusta Prep shot clanked off the rim at the buzzer.
In the extra period, the Cavs went on a 5-0 run to take a 48-43 lead. But Smith hit his two treys, the last one with 27.3 left, to put BA (11-15, 4-6) up 51-49.
Augusta’s Rafay Chandrey was fouled with his squad in the double bonus with 9.7 left. He hit the first shot to cut the lead to one, 51-50, and Gator head coach Chandler Dennard used a timeout. Chandrey missed the next shot and junior guard Will Rushing got the rebound. He was fouled with 7.0 left and went to the line on a one-and-one situation. But he hit the front of the rim and the Cavs got the rebound, calling timeout with 4.9 left.
The Cavs pushed the ball up the floor, crossed half court and began searching for a quick shot. APS whipped the ball around the perimeter for the last-second shot. But Rushing alertly stuck his hand and deflected the pass. It bounced away as the horn sounded.
The Gators opened the game with a tough 2-3 zone, a quick trap and accurate shooting. The Sheppard brothers combined for 10 points as Bulloch took a 15-3 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Rushing opened the second with a trey for an 18-3 advantage but the Cavaliers stormed back, outscoring the Gators 17-7 to trim the lead to 24-20 at the half.
In the third, APS’s Chandrey and Michael Downing battled hard down low and gave the Cavs a 31-30 lead by the buzzer. Downing had a team-high 15 while Chandrey added 10.
APS widened the gap in the fourth but Bulloch rallied for the exciting finish.
In the girls’ game, the Lady Cavs (10-13, 1-7) were simply no match for Bulloch.
The Gator girls (27-1, 8-0) were clicking on all cylinders on both offense and defense. Oglesby played like a possessed woman in the lane while Gilbert worked on her short jumpers. Senior Danielle Atkinson, as well as Gilbert and juniors Ashley Burke, pressured the Augusta girls hard and took advantage of their turnovers.
Junior Pate Lomax, who didn’t enter the game until late in the opening quarter, led offense in the second and third quarter by adding 14 to the total.
Both Bulloch teams travel to Martinez next week for the Region 4-AAA tournament at Augusta Prep.