DUBLIN — John Milledge Academy outscored Bulloch Academy 23-8 in the fourth quarter to break open a two-point game and upset the Gators 70-57 in the first round of the GISA Region 4-AAA basketball tournament Tuesday night.
Bulloch, the No. 3 seed of the tournament, had a slim 49-47 lead on the sixth-seeded squad at the end of third quarter. BA (15-10) had a 50-47 advantage early in the fourth when senior Win Lee hit one of two free throws. Lee finished the night with 16 points.
But the Trojans (16-11) eased out to a 52-50 lead when Brantley Attaway nailed a 3-pointer with 6:57 left.
Both squads played patiently in the next few minutes, swinging the ball around the perimeter and looking for the best inside shot. The lead changed hands as the Gators stayed within a bucket. Then Cody Wood buried a trey with 4:28 left for a five-point lead, 59-54. Wood had 22 points on the night.
JMA then proceeded to take Bulloch out of its game, working the ball around with their guards instead of playing run-and-gun with the high-octane Gators. This slow-down game frustrated Bulloch as the Trojans ran precious seconds and minutes off the clock.
Wood connected again with 2:30 left to take a 61-54 lead. He and big man Logan Colburn also frustrated the Gators on the defensive boards as the pair excelled in the paint.
The desperation showed on BA’s offensive efforts as the Gators were held scoreless down the stretch. From the charity stripe, BA was one-of-five in the fourth quarter and three-of-11 for the game. In the fourth, John Milledge connected on nine-of-10 from the free-throw line to pull away and end the Gators’ season.
Bulloch blasted off in the opening minutes of the first quarter. Senior shooter Zach Altany pounded three three-pointers from the left corner to give the Gators a 9-0 lead at the 6:20 mark of the opening quarter. Altany led all BA scorers with 17 points.
But JMA big men Colburn and Wynn Owen led the charge as the Trojans scored seven unanswered points to cut the lead to a bucket, 9-7, on a Dusty Tyson long ball. Milledge’s 2-2-1 half-court trap was effective and helped the Milledgeville team roll up a 17-12 lead by the end of the buzzer.
In the second, the Trojans used the slow-down offense to get the high-percentage shot and Bulloch came out icy cold. A 19-14 lead quickly turned into a seemingly overwhelming 26-18 advantage.
Colburn, who led the Trojans with 23 points, paced the charge. JMA spread the Gator man defense and scored at will. Milledge rolled up a 32-20 lead by the 3:22 mark.
Then, Bulloch transformed into the fast-paced, up-tempo team that it had been all season.
The Gators ran the floor, had a vicious back-court press and scored at will. Bulloch pumped in 13 unanswered points. Freshman Forrest Spence had a steal and a layup with 51.9 seconds remaining for a 33-32 lead.
Lee led the charge, netting 12 points. The intense senior hit a three-pointer with 16.7 seconds left as the Gators took a 36-34 lead which they carried into the locker room.
The third was a stalemate with the squads battling back and forth. JMA came out with two consecutive baskets to take a 38-36 lead. The tug-of-war continued throughout the quarter. Lee hit a running drive with 1:30 left to put BA up 45-43. Colburn came back to tie it with a back-door layup with 20 seconds left. Spence canned a 10-footer with six seconds left to put BA up 49-47 by the buzzer.