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Gators prepare for first round of state playoffs

    The Bulloch Academy Gators don’t have time to rest on their laurels after a 66-54 victory over Frederica Friday to win the team’s second consecutive GISA 2-AAA Region championship.
    The Gators will host none other than the Gators of Gatewood High School, the No. 4 seed out of Region 4-AAA.
    However, Bulloch Academy (16-9) head coach Chandler Dennard said this matchup won’t be your typical No.1 versus No. 4 seed game.
    “We need a lot of people to show up. Don’t let the number one versus a number four seed fool you,” Dennard said. “(Gatewood) will be the favorite. They’re more experienced. They’ve been here before. They’ve been ranked all year and they have some wins against mutual opponents that we lost to.”
    The Gators of Gatewood advanced to the state finals last year, losing to Deerfield-Windsor in the championship.
    Gatewood (21-6) returns several starters from that state runner-up team, including 6-foot-4 center Tonquavious Horton. Horton has been a walking double-double this year and Dennard said stopping him will be a total team effort.
    "They’re going to bring a triple headed monster into Bulloch Academy. Two guys are being recruited to play college ball. We have to contain them,” Dennard said. “They have a 6-foot-4 center who moves well for his size. He gets a lot of people in foul trouble.”
    Bulloch Academy has a few capable big men of their own. Center Hunter Perry scored 13 points in the region championship game against Frederica. Perry has come on as of late as well as big men Seth Brant and Chad Lanier and Brian Harrison.
    The success of Bulloch Academy's bigs could be attributed to a change in philosophy midway through the season.
    BA decided to switch styles to a more up-tempo offense and work the ball inside out.The results seem to have everyone happy.
    “Once we made the adjustment, everybody bought into it and we just started to have a lot more chemistry and it just made us a more cohesive as a team,” Dennard said.

    Foul trouble- If Perry finds himself in foul trouble early, it will be up to Brant and Lanier to carry a big load and stop Gatewood’s Horton on the defensive end. Dennard has no problem mixing in his role players when needed and the duo could combine for valuable minutes in the opening round of the state playoffs.
    “We’re not going to change what we do. Chad Lanier and Seth Brant need to step up and guard some of that interior presence,” Dennard said.
    Sensational Sophomores- Arguably the biggest x-factor in this game are Bulloch Academy’s core group of  underclassman, including freshman Don Aaron. Aaron has the ability to hit the outside shot as well as make smart passes inside.
    “They’re kind of unknown. People know Tyler Budgett and Jarrias Mikell. They don’t know about Don,” Dennard said.