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Bulloch girls come up short of region title

    Considering the intense rivalry between Pinewood and Bulloch Academy, it seemed only fitting the two teams would meet once again in the championship round of the GISA Region 2-AAA tournament Friday night.
    The back-and-forth matchup featured seven lead changes and four ties in the first half alone. In the end, the Lady Gators weren’t able to overcome Pinewood’s pressure—losing 65-56.
    Pinewood ended the Lady Gators’ streak of four consecutive region championships.
    “You have to give Pinewood credit. I thought all game long Pinewood played the best game I’ve seen them play all year,” Bulloch Academy girls basketball coach Paul Webb said. “You have to tip your hat to them and say congratulations and move on.”
    Despite all the lead changes in the first half, the second half was a different story in favor of Pinewood. Macy Pirkle dominated the third and fourth quarter, scoring 24 second-half points on her way to a game-high 29.
    For Bulloch Academy, Mikay Sands led the way with 22 points followed by Lacy Robins' 16 points. Sarah Evans ended the night with 10 points and three blocked shots.
    A loss in the region championship game means the Lady Gators will have to travel for the first round of the GISA state playoffs.
    No big deal for BA, said Webb. His team has done it before.
    “We’ve become accustomed to playing at home the first round and now we will have to travel. I can remember about six or seven years ago when we started all this state tournament run we were the third seed and we had to travel all over the state and knock off higher seeds,” Webb said. “We got all the way to the state championship game. We know it can be done.”
    Friday night, the Lady Patriots started the third quarter on a 13-6 run to retake the lead. Pinewood led 40-33 with 1:10 left in the third. Pinewood never looked back and didn’t give up the lead in the second half.
    The Pinewood guards pressured Robins all night long, disrupting the Lady Gators’ fast-pace offense.
    The Lady Gators wouldn’t go down without a fight. Sands hit a mid-range jumper to cut into Pinewood’s lead 57-52 with less than a minute to play, but the comeback would fall short. 
    Coach Webb said the pressure was one of the difference-makers in the game.
    “The game of basketball has become too physical. I thought it was a very physical ball game and it affected the outcome,” Webb said.
    Next up, the Lady Gators will travel to Camilla to face No. 3 seed out of Region 4-AAA, Augusta Prep Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.