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Gators celebrate BA's Senior Night with pair of wins

    Bulloch Academy seniors Haley Burke, Taylor Collins and Amelia Akins shone during Senior Night to help lift the Lady Gators past Augusta Prep, 50-36, on  Friday night.
    Collins netted a game-high 18 points, Burke pumped in 16 and Akins contributed some tough fourth-quarter defense in the hard-fought victory, which was the final regular-season game for the BA girls. With the win, Bulloch (21-5, 6-4) captured the second seed headed into the GISA Region 4-AAA tournament. Bulloch get a first-round bye and will play at 4 p.m. Friday afternoon at Westminster School in Augusta against the winner of Tuesday’s John Milledge-Augusta Prep contest.
    The Lady Cavaliers (14-10, 3-8) had beaten Bulloch, 61-54, earlier in January and were poised to do it again. They flexed their muscles many times throughout the night as the fast-paced game turned physical on numerous occasions.
    Center Jovan Cardosa and forward Leila Woodhurst gave Collins and Anna Newton all they could handle down low. But Collins and Newton held Cardosa’s point total to zero while Woodhurst had just 10. Collins went off in the second quarter, notching nine in the rough-and-tumble eight-minute span to help BA take a 26-21 halftime lead.
    Amanda Murphy, who had 26 points in the Jan. 17 victory, saw limited action due to a pre-existing injury to her right shoulder. Still, she showed her worth as she weaved in and out of the BA defenders. She had six on the night.
    But it was Katie Murphy who hurt the Lady Gators the most. Her five straight points late in the third quarter knotted the score at 32-32. She had a game-high 14 points. BA went on a 5-0 run, sparked by Burke’s second three-pointer of the quarter, to take a 39-32 lead at the buzzer.
    Cardosa had collected four fouls by the time the fourth quarter rolled around and didn’t start. Collins, who only had three, took advantage of AP’s missing muscle and went on a 6-2 run early. Burke banked in a runner with 6:03 left for a 45-32 lead.
    The Lady Gators used their spread offense to burn the clock but the Lady Cavs turned two steals into four points to trim the lead to 45-36. Burke hit her third three-pointer of the night at the 4:02 mark for a 48-36 lead.
    Bulloch 50, Augusta Prep 39
    When senior Vietnamese exchange student Bill Nguyen, who was getting his first-ever start, canned a 12-foot jumper to open the game, BA head coach Chandler Dennard knew it was going to be a good night.
    But it took a third-quarter scoring explosion to secure a 50-39 victory and also give the Bulloch boys the second seed headed into the region tournament.
    The Gators (20-5 overall and 9-3 in the region) will play Trinity Christian School of Dublin at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Westminster School in Augusta.
    Bulloch had a 23-15 halftime lead in the lackluster contest. BA stormed out to a 15-4 advantage at the end of the first eight minutes as Dennard substituted early and often against the Cavaliers (7-18).
    But the Cavs came out of the locker room with a purpose and shocked the Gators with a 7-0 run to trim the Gators' lead to one, 23-22, by the 5:12 mark. APS junior Ben Guthrie, who had 10 points, spearheaded the attack.
    After a Dennard timeout, the Gators seemed to regroup. Forrest Spence scored four in the quarter to lead an 11-2 run, giving Bulloch a 34-24 lead headed into the final quarter.
    Senior Jaylen Evans came alive in the fourth, netting six of his eight points. Junior German exchange student Themba Twala led the Gators with nine points while senior John Cornett added eight and Spence had seven.
    In afternoon action, the Bulloch B-team girls reached their 10th win of the season with a 39-16 destruction of the Lady Cavs.
    Danielle Atkinson, Page Spence and Pate Lomax score six points each. The BA boys’ b-team nipped APS 42-38. Matt Sheppard netted 13 while both Bill Sheppard and Will Marsh had nine each.