The Bulloch Academy girls had to change their tactics Saturday night in order to pull out a 57-42 victory over Frederica Academy.
Bulloch’s Taylor Collins and Anna Newton squared off against Frederica’s El Groenwald and Claire Angelich in the paint and the foursome pounded on one another almost the entire game. The taller Lady Knight pair won the scoring war as Angelich netted 12 and Groenwald added eight. For Bulloch, Collins scored 10 and Newton had three.
But it was the outside shooting and the quickness of the Lady Gators which turned the tide and helped them pick up their 11th win of the season.
Senior Haley Burke tickled the twine for 21 points, including three three-pointers, to lead the charge. Junior Mary Margaret Reeves also hit from long-range, scoring nine first-half points.
Frederica’s 2-3 zone with Groenwald and Angelich below the basket thwarted Bulloch’s normal low-post game. Groenwald and the more aggressive Collins traded blows like mixed martial arts fighters.
Bulloch took a slim lead midway through the first quarter. After the Lady Gators launched their smothering press, BA converted a few turnovers into points. Reeves drilled a 14-footer with two seconds left on the clock for a 12-6 lead.
In the second, the Bulloch girls held the advantage at six early in the quarter. Reeves pounded a three-pointer with 4:52 left for a 19-12 lead and started a 13-4 scoring binge. The quickness and aggressiveness of the Gator girls on the backcourt press, their uptempo game and their accurate short-range shots helped them take a 32-16 lead into the lockerroom. BA outscored the Lady Knights 20-10 for the advantage.
Frederica stormed out in the third quarter, led by a ferocious attack from Groenwald. Although she only had a basket, she and Angelich held Collins and Newton scoreless as FA went on a 10-4 run. The Lady Knights cut the lead to 10, 36-26, when Angelich hit two free throws with 3:35 remaining. But she and Newton collected their fourth fouls and sat late in the quarter.
Bulloch exploited FA’s loss, going on a 7-0 run to regain a big lead. Burke nailed a three-pointer with 1:01 left to put the Lady Gators up by 45-26.
Groenwald started the fourth but collected her fifth foul early. Burke drilled back-to-back treys to give Bulloch a 20-point lead, 51-31, and both teams substituted freely.
The Lady Gators take a break for Christmas but head to Macon on Dec. 27-29 for the Tattnall Square Christmas Tournament.
Frederica 43, Bulloch 36
The Bulloch boys also changed tactics Saturday, opting for a slower-paced contest against the cat-quick Knights.
But the outcome wasn’t favorable for the home team.
Frederica’s Sam Heery lit up the scoreboard for 20 points and was eight-of-10 from the free-throw line as the St. Simons Island squad handed the Gators their first loss.
Frederica’s 2-3 zone, led by the tough play of Malcolm Mann, took the Gators’ big men out of the game for three full quarters. Bulloch (6-1) also experienced shooting woes, ball-handling mistakes and bad decisions.
In the first quarter, junior Forrest Spence could do no wrong. He popped the net from long-distance, scoring seven of his team-high 10 as the Gators took a 13-7 lead. BA big men Themba Twala and John Cornett were sweeping the boards clean. Bulloch worked the ball around the perimeter, looked for the open shot and seemed poised to run away with the game.
That changed in the second.
The FA zone closed shut on Twala and Cornett. The Knights used their own style of slow-down basketball but their shots hit their mark. Frederica outscored Bulloch 12-6 to knot the contest at 19 after the first half.
The chess match continued in the third. Bulloch held a slim lead but the Gator guys seemed uncomfortable playing the patient offense. On the other hand, the Knights seemed to content to wait until the right moment to strike. And they did midway through the quarter, taking their first lead of the game when Heery put them up 24-21 on a three-pointer. Heery scored a three-point play with 3:07 left and Khari Pressley stole the ensuing inbounds pass for a layup to give Frederica a 29-23 lead with three minutes left. BA’s Jaylen Evans, who scored 10 on the night, added a late basket to cut the lead to 29-25 by the buzzer.
Cornett, who had six on the night, cut the FA lead to 29-27 with a quick basket to start the fourth quarter. But the Knights tasted the possibility of a victory and had a 5-0 run to take a 34-27 lead by the 3:28 mark.
Twala came alive, scoring all nine of his points in the final quarter, as the Gators mounted a late rally. The junior from Germany drilled a three-pointer with 42.3 seconds left to cut the lead to 39-36. But Frederica hit their free throws down the stretch to clinch the win.
The Gators also take a break next week for Christmas and head to Macon on Dec. 27-29 for the Tattnall Square Christmas Tournament.