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Bulloch Academy girls still going strong
Lady Gators streak at 28 games, 350 days
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Bulloch Academy's Pate Lomax (23) rises over a Westfield defender during a Dec. 6 victory at Gator Alley. - photo by BRYAN BURKE/Special to the Herald



    Over the last few years, the Lady Gators of Bulloch Academy have gone about setting all sorts of high-water marks for the program.
    The Gators started with region championships before working their way farther and farther into the state playoffs. Bulloch reached the top of the mountain last season with a GISA Class AAA state championship, but is now finding new ways to add on to its legacy.
    Not only are the Lady Gators the reigning champs in Class AAA, but they haven’t dropped a game since Dec. 28, 2013. That’s a span of 28 games and, with a few more victories before 2015, an entire calendar year.
That mark is astounding — and the best in school history by far — but is just a blip on the radar for the current Gator squad.
    “Of course we’re aware that we have a streak going,” Bulloch coach Paul Webb said at Wednesday’s practice. “It’s a great run, but our focus is on the future. Our main goal is to go 1-0 in each game that’s in front of us.”
    Just as impressive as the actual streak is that the Gators haven’t shied away from any competition in order to maintain the run. Bulloch last dropped a game during a Christmas tournament last season, then ran through its region and claimed seven consecutive postseason victories en route to the state title.
    The beginning of the 2014-15 campaign has also been challenging, with the Gators searching far outside of their region to take on — and defeat — talented opponents.
    “It’s different because we’re expected to do more this season,” senior forward Pate Lomax said. “That’s fine with us. We want to win again. We play every game like it’s 0-0. Our biggest goal is to always play as hard as we can.”
    Despite replacing half of its starting lineup, Bulloch hasn’t missed a beat and has rolled to a 9-0 record to begin the season.
    Plenty of state champions are the result of catching lightning in a bottle, but the Gators are aiming for more than just one banner.
    “We have a lot of goals, but we also have a lot of growing to do,” Webb said. “Right now, we’re looking for some depth to our team. In a way, it kind of helps our younger girls. They’re getting thrown right into the fire because we know that we’re going to get everyone’s best shot.”
    Having conquered Georgia, the Gators are now taking on new challenges.
    Because of last year’s state championship, Bulloch has been invited to take part in the 84-team Carolina Invitational, beginning Dec. 27 in Charleston, S.C.
    The competition will be as tough as the Gators have ever seen, but that’s exactly the point for a program that has achieved one ‘ultimate’ goal and is now looking for bigger and better accomplishments.
    “We’re very proud to be a part of this tournament,” Webb said. “I don’t think any program at Bulloch Academy has ever been in an event quite like this. We’re going to play teams from three different states. I know that they’re going to give us a big challenge, but that’s what we’re looking for.”
    Of course, even if the Gators can’t get through an 84-team, semi-national tournament unscathed, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of other streaks going for Bulloch.
    Perhaps more impressive than the overall win streak is the fact that no opponent has claimed a victory in Gator Alley since Jan. 15, 2013.
    “No matter what we’ve accomplished, it’s all about what’s in front of us,” Webb said. “I think some of our older girls understand, and it’s what we want everyone to understand. We’re proud of what we’ve done, but we’re looking forward to what we can do this season.”

    Mike Anthony may be reached at (912) 489-9408.