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Bulloch looking for revenge in Macon

    Bulloch Academy has a score to settle tonight in the first round of the GISA Class AAA state boys’ basketball tournament.
    Last February, Bulloch faced Mount de Sales in the second round of the 2012 tournament.            The Gators and the Cavaliers battled fiercely and the game went back and forth as each squad gained momentum and had its chances to pull away.
    At the end of regulation, the score was tied. An incredible five overtime periods later, Mount de Sales snuck away with an 80-79 win.
    A few weeks ago, the teams meet again, this time in Statesboro, and the Cavs went back to Macon with a 47-41 victory.
    “They have beaten us the last couple of times we have played,” said BA head coach Chandler Dennard. “We are very familiar with them.”
    The third time, as they say, may be the charm as Bulloch tangles with Mount de Sales (18-7) at 7 p.m. at Stratford Academy.
    “They are very athletic and well coached,” said Dennard. “Even though they are coming in as the fourth seed from Region 2, it’s going to be a tough first-round matchup.”
    But the Gators are on a six-game winning streak and coming off an emotional high of winning the Region 4-AAA title last Friday.
    “Two weeks ago, we were sitting in the fifth spot in the region,” said Dennard. “The guys put together a good streak and now we are region champs.”
    Bulloch (16-11) has had a season filled with adversity but the members of the squad have persevered night in and night out. Led by seniors Forest Spence (14.8 ppg) and Themba Twala (9.6 ppg and 10.7 rpg), the Gators have fought hard all season long, losing many contests by just a bucket or two.
    “The kids have really worked hard and have had to overcome adversity in the form of injuries and illness,” said Dennard. “We had to play a lot of young guys and they just continued to get better. Having to mix-and-match lineups during the season really helped us come together as a team. The kids have really come to understand their roles and they give maximum effort in fulfilling those roles.”
    Defense has been a mainstay for the Gators and Dennard hopes that it will continue tonight.
    “We have said all year long that we’re going to have to make our living playing defense,” he said. “The kids have really taken a lot of pride in locking other teams down. During the six-game winning streak, we gave up just 33 points per game. During the region tournament, that went down to 25.7.
    “It’s going to be a tough matchup,” added Dennard, “but the one thing I can guarantee is that this group of kids is going to play hard.”