This year’s Claxton boys basketball squad features just three seniors and is missing a wealth of talent and experience from last season.
Looking for its first win of the season last weekend, junior Kyle Vliet took the lead in a double-overtime thriller against Southeast Bulloch.
Claxton had already squandered leads in the final minute of regulation and the first overtime before Vliet took over. Vliet’s Tigers trailed by three in the second overtime before he went strong to the basket for a layup. He missed a chance for a three-point play, but grabbed his own rebound and put up another layup to give his team the lead.
“It was intense,” Vliet said. “The ball kept coming to me, so I just tried to go with it and make some shots.”
Vliet continued to power Claxton forward, hitting another tough jumper and draining two free throws as the Tigers claimed a 77-71 win.
“This was big for us,” Vliet said. “We’re a pretty young team and we’re trying to learn and get better. We know we’ve got a tough region schedule coming up, so all we can do is keep playing hard.”
There has been no shortage of great basketball turned in by the Lady Gators of Bulloch Academy lately. Since the 2008-09 season, Bulloch has won a pair of region titles, has made two trips to the Final Four, and has compiled a 119-42 record.
The Gators had plenty of question marks heading into this season after losing plenty of its scoring from last season to graduation, but players like junior Pate Lomax have stepped up to make sure the team doesn’t miss a beat. Lomax scored a season-high 19 points Tuesday night as Bulloch defeated Curtis Baptist to run its record to 8-0. Lomax is the Gators’ leading scorer so far this season and has reached the 10-point mark in all but two games.
“Everyone back from last year is trying to do more,” Lomax said. “Coach (Paul Webb) is doing a great job with the new girls and exchange students. Overall, I think we’re just coming together really well as a team.”
Bulloch faces another tough road in a loaded region, but experienced players have made the run before and the Gators have proven to have no problem finding new stars to lead the team each season.