Bulloch Academy couldn’t escape a hot-shooting Westminster Tuesday night when they fell 71-47 in their own gym.
Westminster would shoot 53 percent from the field — including 78 percent in the paint — while BA struggled to establish a rhythm outside a stretch of play in the third quarter when they were down 42-25.
“Georgia College is here watching their players if that tells you anything,” said head coach Chandler Dennard. “There were a very good team.”
Trailing 34-25 coming out of halftime, BA saw Westminster hit a 8-0 run in the first three and a half minutes of the quarter — which were sloppy to say the least. Both teams would combine to shoot 2-of-11 (BA 0-5) for the first four minutes of the quarter, with BA’s only point coming off a free-throw by Trevor Mason.
But off missed three by Brett Thomas, Steven Henry would duck under his defender to grab the offensive rebound and kick it out to Don Aaron for a three-pointer to cut the Westminster lead to 42-29.
Then out of a Westminster timeout, Chad Lanier would pick McKay Staksy’s pocket to find a streaking Seth Brant down the lane for a transition lay-in. BA’s next possession saw Thomas get stolen by Michael Dukes, but Dukes stepped out of bounds on the way down the sideline to give the Gators the ball right back.
That turned into a Thomas score off a pass from Don Aaron to cut the lead down to nine points. Then Thomas would grab another steal to find Brant in transition for BA’s fourth score in five possessions.
BA would then benefit on a technical foul by Dukes for unsportsmanlike conduct after he was called for a walk, allowing Henry to drop in two free throws to bring BA within five points at 42-37, the closest the Gators had been since the end of the first quarter.
“The scoreboard was a bit misleading in that aspect,” Dennard said of his teams minor comeback. “We did some good thingsm but we just turned the ball over too many times.”
But with 2:37 left in the third quarter, Noah Keshner would get a feed from Staksy under the basket, then add a free throw after Lanier fouled him on the shot. Thomas would answer with a mid-range jumper the following possession, only to be matched by two more free throws by Keshner after being fouled by Brant.
Thomas would come back after turning the ball over to get a rebound off a Westminster miss and take the length of the court to get another bucket for BA. The two sides would trade baskets again before the end of the quarter, with BA down by seven at 50-43.
But the fourth quarter is what would ultimately undo BA, as the Gators would be held scoreless for the first four and a half minutes of the quarter. BA would miss their first six shots and turn the ball over three times on their first nine possessions.
“When you give a good team like that extra possessions they will make you pay for it,” Dennard said. “That’s how you get beat by 24 points.”
All the while Westminster would shoot 5-for-7 and hit a 13-0 run to essentially flush the game away from BA. Then to add insult to injury — literally — Thomas slipped on a wet floor and had to hop off the court on one foot. The extent of the injury is unknown.
“I hope we hadn't lost Brett,” Dennard said. “He hurt his ankle pretty bad. He’s one of our better defensive players.”
Fouls played a big part of BA’s downfall. Even though BA was only called for four more fouls than Westminster (18 to 14), those led to 24 free throw attempts of which Westminster would make 19.
Lanier would led BA in scoring with 12 points, followed by Don Aaron with 11 points and five assists. Henry would add eight points while Brant and Thomas each had six.
BA (1-3) hits the road this weekend to take on Westfield at 5:30 and Windsor at 2:30. Both games will be played at Frederica Academy.
Lady Gator comeback falls short
Despite another double-double from Mikay Sands, Bulloch Academy couldn’t overcome a big halftime deficit to fall to Westminster 37-32 Tuesday night.
BA saw themselves down 23-13 coming out of the first half, in part to superior perimeter defense — specifically on BA point guard Abby Newton — by Westminster to force scoring droughts of five and a half minutes in the first quarter and four minutes in the second quarter.
“It’s good for Abby to see that kind of defensive pressure, and that girl gaurding her was very good,” said BA head coach Paul Webb. “But when that happens we need to find other ways to find ways down the court.”
After hitting their first two shots of the game, BA would commit eight turnovers on their next ten possessions to let Westminster go up 10-4 with a minute and 40 seconds left in the first quarter.
Sands would end the scoring drought with an and-one basket and another free throw and the end of the quarter to cut the deficit to 12-8. That run continued through the beginning of the second quarter, where Sands would add four more points on BA’s next six possessions to cut the lead to just one point.
At 13-12, BA would fall into yet another scoring drought. The Lady Gators would only score one more point off a Madeline Cowart free-throw while still keeping the score at 16-13 at the two-minute mark in the second quarter.
But three straight baskets — including a three at the buzzer — by Westminster sunk BA at the aforementioned halftime deficit.
“We talked about making some adjustments at halftime,” Webb said. “And I thought we made some of those well. But turnovers just killed us.”
But the third quarter is where BA would finally make their presence felt — or Sands would at least. After their first three possessions proved fruitless, Sands would carry the team the rest of the quarter.
Sands would shoot 5-of-6 from the field and score all ten of Bulloch Academy’s third quarter points. No matter whether she was double-teamed or even triple-teamed at times, Sands signature drop-step, turn-around post jumper was on fire through the third quarter.
“The drop step is always my go to,” Sands said. “Even when I’m double or triple teamed.”
Sands alone would outscore Westminster 10-3 in the quarter to bring BA within five points at the end of the third.
BA got a jumper from Cowart at the beginning of the fourth to cut the Westminster lead to 28-25, then after forcing a miss on the other end of the court would come back and feed Regan Ellis in the corner to hit a three to tie the game at 28. It was the only shot Ellis had made up to that point.
But two possessions later Westminster would score on a mid-range jumper by Aurla Carter, then Westminster would begin to deny Sands the ball in the post. And with Ashley Davis smothering Newton at the top of the three-point line — BA had no other scoring options.
“It’s so critical for us to find the third scorer on this team,” Webb said. “There are a lot of things that have to happen for us to become a great team but developing a third scorer is at the top of the list.”
Even with Cowart hitting a three to bring the lead back to 33-31 with 3:36 left in the game, the Lady Gators would be held to just one point on a Sands free throw for the rest of the game. BA would shoot 0-for-5 with three turnovers the rest of the way.
Sands would finish 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting with 10 boards and six blocks. But outside of Sands, BA shot 4-of-19 with 24 turnovers. Cowart would score six points on 2-of-5 shooting, but no other player could provide sufficient offense.
“We can’t have more than 18 turnovers on this team in order to be successful,” Webb said. “Especially down the stretch, those turnovers killed us.”
BA (3-3) hits the road this weekend to play Westfield and Windsor — both at Frederica Academy.