MACON, Ga. — Senior Pate Lomax muscled in a game-high 23 points to lead Bulloch Academy past Westwood 57-44 in the semifinals of the GISA Class AAA girls’ basketball tournament Thursday at Hawkins Arena on the campus of Mercer University.
Lomax and sophomore Mikay Sands tag-teamed the Lady Wildcats in the middle as the pair pummeled the previously unbeaten squad. Junior Sarah Evans joined the affray as well. Meanwhile, seniors Ashley Burke and Page Spence pushed the Westwood girls (28-1) up and down the floor with their quickness and speed. Burke had 14 on the night while Sands added 12.
It will be an all-Lady Gator showdown Saturday as Bulloch (27-4) will face the Gatewood School from Eatonton in the championship game at 5:20 p.m.
Earlier in the day, senior Leslie Calvert scored a game-high 29 points to lead the Lady Gators (29-1) to a 64-33 victory over The Heritage School in the first Class AAA Final Four contest.
In the finale of the first Final Four tournament, there was plenty of hard, aggressive play as Lomax and Sands battled Karlie Jones for dominance inside the paint.
Bulloch’s 2-2-1 halfcourt trap helped the Lady Gators ease out to an 8-2 lead late in the first quarter. Burke had six of her eight first-half points in the run.
But a Callie Smith trey with 3:03 remaining cut the lead to three. Sands was able to muscle inside for a layup with 2:55 left. Evans got into act and had a putback with 1:01 left for a 12-6 lead. Lomax hit a six-footer at the buzzer for a 14-8 advantage.
The Gator duo of Lomax and Sands, with help from Evans, continued to dominate the boards early in the second. But the Lady Wildcats were able to sneak inside behind McKenlee Coleman and Morgan Singleton and knot the score at 14-14 midway through the period.
Westwood was able to run with Bulloch in the final minutes and turned the tables on the Lady Gators. Singleton and Haley Marshall had inside layups to lead the Lady Wildcats to a 21-19 halftime lead. Singleton and Smith led the Lady Wildcats with 14 each.
In the third, Lomax knotted the score at 21 with a hard layup at the 7:26 mark. She, Sands and Evans muscled inside for a 29-25 lead midway through the quarter. Lomax’s bucket with 2:44 put BA up 32-25. But Westwood rallied and was able to hold its ground with the Lady Gators in the remainder of the quarter. Sands had a hit with seven seconds left for a 39-34 lead.
Bulloch pulled away in the final quarter, going on a 10-4 run to take a 49-38 lead with 3:46 left. The Lady Wildcats started fouling early to put BA at the line. The strategy almost worked for the Lady Gators were unusually sketchy from the charity stripe. The Lady Gators converted on just 10-of-21 shots in the fourth quarter and 14-of-30 on the night.
Westwood worked hard and was able to cut the lead to eight, 52-44, when Smith pounded a trey with 1:07 left in the game. But the Lady Gators were able to hit five-of-six shots from the charity stripe to secure the victory.