MILLEDGEVILLE - Bulloch Academy outscored Dominion Christian 30-8 in the second half to take a 50-31 victory in the opening round of the GISA Class AAA boys' basketball tournament Thursday.
Down 23-20 at halftime of a slow-moving game, BA head coach Chandler Dennard remembered the old coaching adage, 'Dance with the one that brung ya'.
"We have played tight man defense all year long but we came out in a zone against Dominion," said Dennard. "It kind of got us out of our rhythm. We just didn't execute on offense and weren't playing well at all. So I told the guys to change back to man in the third quarter."
The difference was immediate.
"We went straight, full-court man-to-man and they couldn't do anything," said Dennard. "The guys completely shut them down. It was the best defense I've seen in a long time."
Bulloch (23-6) advances to Saturday's second-round action, where the Gators will take on the winner of the Mount de Sales-Westfield game at 4:30 p.m. at Tattnall Square Academy in Macon.
The Gators played shut-down defense in the third quarter, not allowing the Knights even a single point. Bulloch went on a 15-0 run to take a 35-23 lead after three.
"They had no where to go with the ball," said Dennard. "If they went up for a shot, that was all they got....one shot. If they drove, they came away with a charge. Besides the starters, we had some guys come off the bench (senior Hosea Jones and juniors Bailey Smith and Ross Rainey) and play well defensively too."
After defensive dominance was established, Bulloch then began to take offensive control.
"We had a few easy transition buckets and that kind of got us going on offense," said Dennard.
Senior Jaylen Evans notched 20 points and classmate John Cornett added 10. Juniors Ross Rainey and Forrest Spence had seven and six respectively.
Dominion Christian battled hard for a 12-11 lead after the end of the opening eight minutes and outpointed BA by a bucket (11-9) in the second quarter for the halftime advantage.