Bulloch Academy had three players in double figures as the Gators whipped David Emanuel Academy 47-38 in their home opener Thursday night.
German foreign exchange student Themba Twala exploded for 18 first-half points and added a bucket in the final quarter for a game-high 20. Forrest Spence added 15 while John Cornett had 13.
Twala opened the scoring with a three-pointer at the 6:48 mark of the first quarter. He scored 12 of Bulloch’s 16 points in the first eight minutes. The Gators (2-0) had an 11-0 lead late in the opening frame but the Eagles (1-1) rallied to cut the score to 16-7 by the buzzer.
In the second, DEA used a 3-2 zone to try and slow Twala down. But BA’s other big man, Cornett, started amping up his game, scoring nine of his points in the quarter. The quick Twala had a steal at the 3:12 mark and pushing in a layup to give the Gators a 25-10 lead.
On defense, the Gators used a spread 1-3-1 zone with Twala on the top and Cornett in the middle. The Eagles had a hard time penetrating but DEA’s Kolo Gana began to do some damage, scoring 10 of his team-high 16 points. Twala nailed a NBA three at the buzzer for a 36-22 lead headed into the lockerroom.
Bulloch and DEA raced up and down the floor in the first half but early-season fatigue seemed to set in during the second half. Both Twala and Cornett had just one bucket each in the second half. Fortunately for Bulloch, the Eagles seemed in the same physical condition.
Spence got hot for the Gators in the third, hitting nine points as Bulloch outscored DEA 11-5. Cornett traded scoring for rebounding as he dominated the middle. The Gators held a 47-27 lead headed into the fourth quarter.
Lady Gators 61, Lady Eagles 25
Bulloch scored 22 points in the second quarter to break open a close contest and pull away from David Emanuel.
Anna Newton netted eight of her game-high 13 points in the quarter as the Lady Gators used a smothering backcourt press to cause DEA turnovers. Bulloch converted and pulled out to a 37-16 lead by halftime.
Bulloch (5-0) had some trouble in the opening quarter with the DEA trio of Jerica Burnett, Kristan Rigdon and Jessica Brett. BA countered with Newton, Taylor Collins and Haley Burke. Burnett was strong early against the Lady Gator power trio, scoring six points in the first quarter.
But the constant pressure by Collins and Newton wore her down allowing Burke to drive to the basket. The BA senior scored eight of her 11 points in the first quarter. She hit both foul shots with 32.1 seconds remaining to give the Lady Gators a 15-10 lead at the end of the opening stanza. Collins scored eight on the night.
Mary Margaret Reeves opened the scoring in the second with a trey at the 7:20 mark to put Bulloch up by eight, 18-10. From there, the Lady Gator press did its job as BA went on a 19-6 run. But everything wasn’t rosy as starting freshman point guard Ashley Burke went down hard on her left wrist late in the quarter. At halftime, with her left arm in a sling, she was taken to East Georgia Regional Medical Center for further analysis.
Pate Lomax, Amelia Akins and Ashlee Lanier came off the bench in the second, third and fourth quarters to play some very impressive minutes. Lomax netted seven points, Lanier had six and Akins added five.
In earlier middle-school action, the BA boys pounded DEA 47-17. Hunter Perry scored a game-high 18 points while both Brian Harrison and Braxton Brinson had eight each. Ashton Greene scored six for DEA.
The Lady Eagles downed the Lady Gators 24-15 behind the seven-point performance of Emma Wells. Isabella Gutierrez led Bulloch with four.