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Bulloch Academy advances to quarterfinals
Gators crush Tiftarea
BA top media
All eyes are on Bulloch Academys senior guard Smith Reeves as he prepares to take a shot Thursday against Tiftarea. - photo by BRYAN BURKE/Special to the Herald

    Bulloch Academy senior Will Marsh scored a career-high 27 points to lead the Gators to a 61-47 thrashing of Tiftarea Academy in the first round of the GISA Class AAA state boys’ basketball playoffs Thursday night.
    With the win, Bulloch (20-8) advances to the quarterfinals to meet Loganville Christian Academy (22-3) on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. In the early game, the Lions nipped Augusta Prep 54-52 to advance to the Elite Eight.
    At first glance, Marsh, a 6-2 beanpole wearing a baggy jersey, doesn’t look like much of a basketball player.
    But, in his case, looks are definitely deceiving.
    All season long, Marsh has played fearlessly in the middle against much-bigger and stronger opponents. His techniques have put him in the right place at the right time on both offense and defense. His heart and desire to win takes over.
    Thursday night was no exception as the senior put it all on the line and played the game of his life in front of a huge and spirited partisan crowd at Gator Alley.
    He scored 11 of Bulloch’s 16 points in the opening quarter. His smooth play in the lane helped enable the Gators to take a 9-0 lead by the 6:29 mark. The quick Gator fast break and their 1-2-2 halfcourt trap staggered the visitors from Chula and put them off-balance.
    The Panthers (17-9) shook the cobwebs out and were able to rally but Marsh’s sweet eight-foot jumper with 2:30 left gave Bulloch a 16-6 lead. TA cut the advantage to 16-10 by the buzzer.
    The tempo slowed in the second and the momentum shifted to Tiftarea.
The bigger squad pushed the Gators around and was able to cut the lead to a bucket, 17-15, after Mondo West’s three-pointer with 5:40 left in the half. West had 11 points on the night.
    But the Bulloch track stars were soon off and running again. BA went on an 8-1 run for a 23-16 lead when Marvin Perkins nailed a three-ball at the 3:20 mark. The senior had 10 in the contest.
    The Panthers were unable to keep up with quickness of senior guards Will Rushing and Smith Reeves while Marsh and sidekick Hunter Perry dominated the paint. Bulloch finished up a 9-2 run when Marsh banked one in with 57.2 left for a 32-17 lead. The Gators held a 32-20 advantage at intermission.
    Tiftarea charged out hard in the third but it was Perry who took control for Bulloch. The brawny junior scored eight of his 14 points, was a rebounding machine and played tough defense. The Gators began to pull away and took a commanding 47-31 lead at the buzzer.
    It was more Marsh in the fourth as he helped keep a firm double-digit lead. In fact, Perry hit two free throws at the 4:05 mark for a 20-point advantage, 57-37.
    Today, the Lady Gators (25-4) take on Westminster of Augusta (20-7) in the quarterfinals of the girls’ tournament. Game time is 6 p.m. at Gator Alley.