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BA knocks off rival Pinewood
Bulloch Academy guard Ashley Burke congratulates Danielle Atkinson (5) after Atkinson made a defensive play to keep Pinewood from scoring in the final seconds of overtime in the Lady Gators' 55-53 win on Tuesday. - photo by BRYAN BURKE/Special to the Herald

    Bulloch Academy senior center Chelsea Oglesby scored a career-high 25 points and senior guard Danielle Atkinson added some last-second defensive heroics as the Lady Gators nipped arch-rival Pinewood 55-53 in overtime Tuesday night.
    The Gator guys made it a clean sweep as they pounded the Patriots 56-35. Sophomore center Hunter Perry netted 15 points while sophomore guard Smith Reeves added 13 in the GISA Region 3-AAA tilt.
    In the intense girls’ game, Bulloch (24-1 overall and 6-0 in the region) held a comfortable 43-31 lead at the end of three quarters. But in the fourth quarter, the wheels fell off.
    PCA (16-5, 4-2) outscored the Gator girls 15-3. To make matters worse, Bulloch was just 1-of-11 from the free-throw line in front of the standing-room only crowd. Senior guard Jessie Knauss canned a three-pointer with 1.2 left in regulation to knot the score at 46-46. She led the Lady Patriots with 25.
    In overtime, BA continued its strategy of taking the ball to the basket with Oglesby and junior forward Pate Lomax, who had 16 on the night.
    “We wanted to get the ball down low,” said Oglesby,” and make them foul us.”
     In the four-minute frame, the Bulloch Academy girls focused and hit 5-of-8 free throws to take a 55-53 lead.
    With 11.8 seconds left, the Lady Patriots inbounded the ball at the far end of the court and Knauss pushed it toward the Lady Gator basket. BA’s tight man defense wouldn’t let her penetrate the lane. After making some quick passes around the perimeter, the ball came back to Knauss. But Atkinson was there too.
    “I was just thinking that we needed to get the ball back,” said the senior. “I just went after it.”
    She, along with fellow guard Ashley Burke, squeezed Knauss and knocked the ball away, causing it to roll down to the far end and out of bounds with 1.5 seconds left.
    PCA retained possession and tried to inbound the ball. But again, Atkinson was there.
    “I knew that they were going to try to get the ball to Jessie,” she said. “I just read the pass.”
    She knocked the ball away and time expired to preserve the Lady Gator victory. As the horn sounded, Atkinson lay on the court where she fell and raised her fists in victory.
     “We run extra sprints and drills in order to play the kind of fast-paced, aggressive defense that we do,” she said after the game. “Our practices are tough but they pay off.”
    In the opening quarter, Oglesby and Lomax worked hard down low but popped out at times due to PCA’s collapsing 2-3 zone.
    “As the season has gone on,” said Oglesby, “we’ve had to work out of the lane because teams would defend down low and double team either Pate or myself.”
    Besides going down low for the layup, both Oglesby and Lomax would take the short jumper from the free-throw line. But PCA’s Knauss fought back and, with long-ball help from Edie Threlkeld and Kaylyn Hagan, the Lady Patriots took a 16-15 lead.
    Pinewood went up 21-15 early in the second. But BA kept pushing the ball inside and Lomax increased her efforts. She had an old-fashioned three-point play at the 3:53 mark to give BA a 22-21 lead and hit two more foul shots 20 seconds later for a 24-21 advantage. Knauss battled back, hitting a trey with 3.2 left to cut the BA lead to 28-27 at intermission.
    It was Oglesby’s turn in the third as she wore out the PCA middle, scoring nine points to help her team take a 43-31 lead at the end of the eight minutes.
      The finale was slow getting started but the Gator guys finally took off, taking a 19-8 lead after the first quarter. Perry powered down low for seven points in the opening frame.
    Reeves took over in the second as Bulloch outscored Pinewood 19-4 in the quarter for a 38-12 halftime lead.
    In the afternoon junior varsity games, Lanier Olliff scored 10 and Chad Lanier added seven as the Gators downed PCA 31-24. Will Sheffield led Pinewood with seven. In the opener, Alivia Collins and Mattie Wynn Hendrix scored nine each but the Lady Gators fell 39-34. Both Regan Waters and Carleigh Bell had seven each for the Lady Patriots.