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Gators take big bite out of SEB
Bulloch Academy's Regan Ellis, right, wrestles with Southeast Bulloch's Dakiah Phillips in first half action, Thursday.

Despite a down performance from last night, Bulloch Academy was able to pull ahead of Southeast Bulloch with a big third quarter for a 44-30 win.

BA held a slim 24-21 lead coming out of the first half despite outshooting SEB by a 41 to 28 percent margin, but it was SEB’’s superior rebounding margin (+15) that kept the Yellow Jackets close on second chance points.

“We hit the glass really well,” said SEB head coach Kristen Barnhill. “It needs to be our strength all season long.”

The beginning of the third quarter was ugly to say the least. The two sides combined for nine missed shots and five turnovers through the first three minutes of play. It wasn’t until MiKay Sands hit a close range shot off a feed from a baseline drive by Alivia Collins to end the drought.

Sands would add two free throws plus another made shot to extend BA’s lead to seven, their largest since a 13-4 mark the Lady Gators had in the first quarter. Krysten Turner would answer on the other end to cut the margin to 29-23, but turnovers, fouls and missed shots at the bucket plagued SEB all second half.

Sands would make another basket for her 10th point of the quarter, then Abby Newton came back three possessions later to nail a corner three to rally BA up 37-26 at the end of the third quarter.

“Our conditioning really gives us an edge when we play in the second half,” said BA head coach Paul Webb. “It showed when we started to rebound better in the second half.”

The offensive woes continued for SEB in the fourth quarter and even rubbed off a bit on BA. After Newton made her fourth three-pointer of the game at the 4:58 mark, neither team made a shot for the next four minutes.

The teams traded turnovers over the next eight possessions, and even as SEB continued to pound the offensive glass they couldn’t convert on the second-chance opportunities. A drive to the basket by Turner against the BA backups with 1:36 left in the game finally ended the lack of offense.

46 of SEB’s 61 shots came at the rim, but could only convert 11 of them into baskets. Even with 22 second chance points, one could only wonder how many more SEB could have had with the astounding rebounding margin they held over BA.

“We need to gather ourselves and be calm in the moment,” Barnhill said. “We need to know going into those second chances that we’re going to get hacked and hit.”

SEB outrebounded BA 52-30, including a 29-8 mark on the offensive glass. And it’s understandable when SEB has the clear height advantage as a team, but Webb knows his team could have done better.

“It’s like I told them before the game, if we rebound we win,” Webb said. “You can tell when someone is boxing out or not.”

Sands came through with another big game and her best yet of the tournament. She finished with 23 points on 9 of 18 shooting with nine rebounds, five steals and six blocks. Newton would add 16 points off a 5 for 9 night, including a 50 percent mark from three. The two would combine for 39 of BA’s 44 points.

“Overall I was pleased,” Webb said. “Once we get more pieces back we won’t have to depend so much on those two.”

Aalyiah Sandifee led the way in scoring and rebounding for SEB with a 15-14 night. Sarah Howard and Turner each had double-digit rebound marks too, with Turner adding nine points to her team’s total.

SEB (0-2) hits the road Tuesday to start region play against Jenkins at 6:00, while BA (2-1) gets a long break before they play again on Nov. 29 against May River in Bluffton, SC.