Two milestones were reached on the court Tuesday night against Augusta Prep… one by a player and one by a coach.
Bulloch Academy senior point guard Ashley Burke drilled a three-pointer with 23.4 seconds left in the third quarter to surpass 1,000 points for her career.
“I had no idea that I was even that close,” she said. “When I hit the trey, the buzzer went off and I didn’t know what was going on. Then I looked at my brother (Taylor) and sister (Haley) and they were holding a banner that said it.”
The Lady Gators went on to roll to a 60-49 victory over the Lady Cavaliers.
Bulloch Academy head boys’ coach Chandler Dennard got the 300th win of his career when the Gators nipped Augusta Prep 49-47.
Senior point guard Will Rushing hit a free throw with 30 seconds remaining in the game and the Gators played stone-wall defense to survive.
“I was really proud of the way the guys played lock-down defense, going man-to-man on their shooters” said Dennard.
Dennard coached seven years at Brentwood School in Sandersville and is in his ninth year with the Gators. His teams reached 100 wins in his fifth year at Brentwood and 200 in February 2009 at Bulloch Academy.
But the Cavs didn’t make number 300 easy.
Augusta Prep (6-5) canned eight treys and led throughout the second and third quarters.
In the second, AP junior gunslinger Chris Stone drilled two of his four three balls to turn the tide. Stone had a game-high 14 points. Bulloch Academy turnovers didn’t help. The quick Cavs took a 26-22 lead by intermission.
The Gators (8-7) were down by as many as 10 early in the third quarter. But Bulloch worked hard to cut the lead to five. Senior Jaylen Tolliver, who led the BA with 11 points, had a three-point play with 26.2 seconds left to trim the lead to 36-33.
The fourth was a back-and-forth, cat-and-mouse contest with neither team able to gain enough momentum to pull away.
With the score tied 46-46, Gator senior Will Marsh had a putback with 1:50 left for a 48-46 advantage. Marsh had 10 for BA, as did classmate Marvin Perkins and junior Hunter Perry.
An Augusta Prep backcourt violation with a little under a minute gave BA back the ball. Bulloch held it for the right shot but Rushing was fouled and sent to the line with 30 seconds left. He hit the first shot but missed the second.
The Cavs came down the court but a tight Gator man defense forced AP to take a timeout with 10.7 left. Bulloch burned its sixth foul with 9.1 seconds left and sent Cav senior Danny Rosenblum to the line with 1.1 remaining. He hit the first shot and the visitors called a timeout to talk over strategy. Rosenblum missed the second shot and the buzzer sounded as both teams battled for the loose ball.
In the girls’ game, the quick Lady Cavaliers (7-7) came out swinging as well but never led in the contest. They double-teamed Burke and packed the middle with a tough zone.
Senior forward Pate Lomax led the Lady Gators (15-1) with 19 points, 12 of which she had in the first half.
Burke didn’t score in the first quarter, instead humbly content to pass the ball.
“Driving and dishing is easier because it gives us a better opportunity to score,” she said. “The defenders come to me and leave my teammates open. It’s not about how many points I get. It’s all about the win.”
Burke, who only needed 11 points to reach the milestone, finally got on the scoreboard in the second quarter as she helped her squad to a 33-24 halftime lead.
Sophomore Mikay Sands, who had 10 on the night, started off the third with a jumper from the charity stripe. The Gators went on a 10-3 run to take a 16-point lead (43-27) by the 3:50 mark.
Late in the third, Burke had a steal and a coast-to-coast layup to cut the magic number to two. Seconds later, she broke the barrier with the three-pointer and tallied 15 points on the night.
Early in the fourth, Lomax canned a six-footer for a 56-36 lead and BA head coach Paul Webb substituted freely.
Bulloch Academy made it a four-game sweep with the earlier junior varsity games.
Abby Newton netted 14 and Madeline Cowart had eight to lead the BA girls to a 43-16 win. In the second game of the afternoon, Brett Thomas pumped in 21 while Don Aaron added 10 for a 58-27 victory.
All four teams travel to Bellville Friday as the Gators open Region 2-AAA play against arch-rival Pinewood Christian Academy.