Bulloch Academy had four guys in double figures as the Gators firmed up their hold on second place in Region 4-AAA with a 71-59 victory over John Milledge Academy Tuesday.
Jaylen Evans scored 15, Ross Rainey added 14, Hosea Jones had 12 and Clayton Rogers contributed 11 in the physical game which saw many spectacular individual plays and performances.
"I was real proud of Hosea and Clayton," said BA head coach Chandler Dennard. "Those two stepped up when we needed them to. The great thing is that everybody is coming together, understanding their roles and stepping up. That’s what a good team does."
The Gators (18-3, 6-1) battled the Trojans tough in the opening quarter. Rogers scored five and played good defense while Themba Twala became more aggressive in his drives to the basket.
"We’ve talked a lot about more making the extra pass and hitting the open man," said Dennard. "It has led to scoring more points (71 is the highest this season) and getting more balanced scoring. We get that kind of balanced scoring the rest of the way, we will be in good shape."
Jones came off the bench to play hard in the second quarter, playing the elbow and scoring six. Twala nailed a three-ball with 2:13 left as BA took a 30-18 advantage. But JMA wouldn’t back down and pulled within eight, 34-26, by halftime.
Dusty Tyson, who had a game-high 22 points, spearheaded a Trojan offensive early in the third. Brantley Attaway’s three-pointer at the 6:12 mark cut the BA lead to 36-35.
Evans had a stunning drive and layup while Rainey had a steal and a layup to give the Gators a little breathing room, 40-35, by the 5:32 mark. But John Milledge (13-9, 2-6) trimmed the lead to a bucket midway through the quarter.
Bulloch had had enough and went on a run which saw Evans put on a show, scoring 11 of his 15 as the Gators took a 55-43 lead at the buzzer.
Bulloch 38, John Milledge 20
A second-quarter surge led to a 14-point halftime lead that the Lady Gators never relinquished in an important region win.
The Bulloch girls pulled out of a four-way log jam at 3-3 with the victory, sending a message with the 18-point edge. Earlier in the month, the Lady Trojans had nipped BA 45-42 in Milledgeville. But Bulloch (19-4, 4-3) was intent on avenging the blemish on its record.
Taylor Collins scored a game-high 12 points while Ashley Burke added 10 and Anna Newton had eight. No Lady Trojan was allowed to reach double digits.
Both squads played clean basketball as neither team reached seven fouls in either half.
The inside game was virtually non-existent in the first quarter as both teams packed the middle, forcing outside shooting. But Newton got open and scored four with under a minute left for an 11-6 lead at the buzzer.
JMA (12-10, 3-4) double teamed Newton in the second and played tough overall defense but so did the Lady Gators. Collins finally muscled her way free for a putback at the 4:04 mark to give BA a 14-8 lead. Another good box-out by Collins, rebound and shot off the backboard put the Lady Gators up 16-8 at the 3:26 mark.
With a good lead, Bulloch played its patient game, swinging the ball around the perimeter to milk the clock. Burke hit two three-pointers, one at the buzzer, as the Gators took a 24-10 advantage into the locker room.
JMA came out in the third, crashing the board hard and playing good defense. The Lady Trojans went on an 8-2 run to cut the BA lead to eight, 26-18, midway through the quarter. Newton got into foul trouble and had to sit. Freshman Pate Lomax came on as her replacement and did an admirable job as she and Collins helped lift the Lady Gators back to a 12-point lead, 30-18, but the buzzer.
In the fourth, Bulloch went on an 8-0 run to take a 38-18 lead on Lauren Dennard’s 10-footer with 5:21 left in the game.
The Lady Gators travel to Augusta Friday to battle Westminster.