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Bulloch Academy splits with Pinewood

    When Bulloch Academy and Pinewood Christian tangle on the hardwood, the atmosphere is always electric.
    Friday night was no exception.
    Mikay Sands netted a career-high 30 points in front of the standing-room only crowd as the Lady Gators pulled away in the second half for a 63-51 victory.
    In the finale, it was raining threes as the Patriots nailed nine, four in the final period, to escape with a 66-61 win.
    In the opener, a cat-quick Pinewood squad (12-3) scored the first seven points of the night before the Lady Gators could even blink. Shelton Rogers shouldered the load on offense while she and Macy Pirkle created turnovers with a tight man press. Both had 13 points on the night.
    Bulloch didn’t score until the 5:41 mark, but Amber Robins found little sister Lacy under the basket for a 14-14 tie at the buzzer. Lacy had 14 on the night while Amber added nine.
    The speed-and-quickness battle raged on in the second with the Lady Gators (15-3) taking a 28-26 halftime lead.
    Bulloch brought the defense in the third quarter, going on an 11-0 run.
    The Gator girls held a 39-26 lead with 3:27. But PCA was far from gassed as they cut the lead to eight, 43-35, by the buzzer.
    In the fourth, PCA continued to creep up on the Lady Gators. The Lady Pats pulled to within one, 46-45, with 4:45 remaining.
    But Bulloch righted the ship as Sands began to get loose, scoring 13 in the quarter.
    The boys’ game started off the same as the Patriots (7-7) went on a tear in the opening quarter. Ethan Duckworth drained two treys early to propel the Pats to a 17-9 lead with 2:47 left.
    Bulloch (9-7) retaliated and came back to pull within five by the buzzer. Tyler Budgett had six of his team-high 23 points while Jarius Mikell added five of his 16.
    Don Aaron and Chad Lanier added an early second-quarter spark, pulling BA to within a bucket. Poor free-throw shooting made the Gator offense have to work harder. Mikell’s steal, drive and layup with 58 seconds left gave Bulloch its first lead of the night at 32-31. Budgett went coast-to-coast with 12 seconds remaining to give the Gators a 34-31 halftime lead.
    In the third, the Patriots were able to gain the upper hand early, knotting the score at 38. But strong rebounding by BA big man Hunter Perry and second-chance shots helped the Gators ease out to a 47-40 lead late. Perry had six on the night.
    But, much like the PCA girls, the Patriots fought back to trim the lead to two. Mikell’s jumper from the line at the buzzer put BA up 49-45. Parks Hagan led the effort with six of his team-high 20 points. Cameron Dutton added four of his 12.
    In the pressure-packed fourth, the squads traded baskets the entire eight minutes as neither squad could pull away. The Patriots netted four treys, two from Duckworth and two from Hagan.
    BA’s Lanier Olliff came alive, scoring five of his eight. He hit a shot from the line with 39.2 left to cut the lead to 61-60. The 50 percent free-throw shooting continued for both squads until Jeffrey Young connected with a pair for a 64-61 lead with 15.1 left.
    BA came down fast on the inbounds and Budgett maneuvered around for a potential game-tying 3. But his shot missed and PCA came up with the rebound. Hagan was fouled with 6.9 left and iced the game with a pair of free throws.
    In junior varsity action earlier in the afternoon, Seth Brant scored 12 and Chad Lanier added 11 as Bulloch doubled up Pinewood 42-21. Wes Purcell led the Patriots with 16. In the girls’ game, Pinewood whipped Bulloch 46-26. Morgan Todd led the Lady Patriots with 10 and Meghan Boatright added nine. Julia Biester led the Lady Gators with eight.