When teams from Bulloch Academy and arch-rival Pinewood Christian meet on the gridiron, on the diamond or on the court, the action is always tense and exciting and the fans are plentiful and loud.
Tuesday night was no exception as the squads meet on the hardwood for GISA Region 4-AAA basketball action and the Gators pulled off a rare trifecta.
Junior Anna Newton pumped in 23 points to lead the Lady Gators in a 58-53 nailbiter over previously undefeated Lady Patriots.
Down 53-52 late in the fourth quarter, BA freshman point guard Ashley Burke drilled a three-pointer from the left wing to give the Lady Gators (14-1 overall and 1-0 in region play) a two-point lead with 1:45 left.
The Lady Patriots (10-1, 0-1) failed to convert on their trip down the floor. Bulloch senior center Taylor Collins got the rebound and dished off to her guards, who patiently burned the clock below the one-minute mark. Newton put up her trademark jumper from the elbow with 52.6 seconds for a 57-53 lead.
Pinewood couldn’t convert for a second straight time. Newton got the rebound and charged across half court. Bulloch played keep away from the quick-handed Lady Patriots and called a timeout with 32 seconds remaining.
The Lady Gators burned more time before junior Lauren Dennard was fouled and went to the line on a one-and-one situation with 15.9 seconds. PCA called two consecutive timeouts to try and ice the point guard. She hit her first shot for the five-point lead but missed the second one. PCA got the rebound and raced down the floor but a stiff Lady Gator defense prevented any scoring.
But there was plenty of scoring in the opening quarter as the girls notched 17 points each in the fast and furious affair. Both squads pushed the ball up and down the court at breakneck speeds. Fans in the stands had to concentrate to watch the uptempo game.
Jessie Knauss, Katie Griffin and Kaylyn Hagan led the charge for PCA. The ball-control squad looked sharp with good passes and cuts to the basket. Hagan scored six points of her 11 points while Griffin had five and Knauss added four.
On the other end of the court, Collins pounded the paint, netting six, while Newton added five.
In the second, the Lady Patriots backed off and slowed the game down. But Bulloch wasn’t thrown by the change of pace as Collins broke the tie with a strong rebound and putback at the 6:08 mark for a 19-17 lead. Collins had 12 points on the night.
Griffin gave the Bellville squad a spark when she hit back-to-back three pointers to put Pinewood up 23-21 with 4:42 left in the quarter. Knauss, who paced PCA with 20 points, then extended the lead to four seconds later. But Newton had a late surge, scoring six points from the paint, and Dennard added a trey as the Lady Gators regained the lead and went into the locker room up 28-27.
Bulloch turned up the heat in the third, outscoring PCA 16-8. Newton and Collins dominated the paint but poor free throw shooting kept the Lady Gators from pulling away. Still, BA had a 44-35 lead at the buzzer.
In the fourth, Pinewood stormed back as Knauss drove in, around and through the BA defense. Bulloch stumbled as the Lady Patriots picked up the pace.
Griffin, who had 16 points, drilled one of her four three-pointers to pull PCA to within one, 48-47, at the 4:26 mark. Knauss gave Pinewood the lead with a bucket with 4:10 to play but BA senior Haley Burke hit a pair from the charity stripe for a 50-49 Lady Gator lead with 3:51 left. Burke had 10 on the night.
Bulloch travels to Stillmore Thursday for a non-region battle with David Emanuel Academy.
Bulloch 48, Pinewood 36
It wasn’t pretty but it was a Region 4-AAA win.
Senior Jaylen Evans netted 16 points and junior Forrest Spence added 14 as the Gators rode a second-half rally to defeat the Patriots.
Pinewood (4-5, 0-1) took a 12-9 lead after the opening quarter. BA big men John Cornett and Themba Twala opened the second quarter with quick scores to give the Gators a 13-12 lead. Cornett and Twala worked the boards well but neither squad seemed to gain the upper hand in the low-scoring contest. Daniel Bell netted four of his 11 points for PCA while Evans had five and Twala added four. Bulloch (9-2, 1-0) took a 20-18 halftime lead.
The third quarter was a different story.
Evans set the stage with some dazzling moves, scoring three straight buckets as BA took a 26-19 lead by the 6:14 mark. The Patriots answered back with a forceful 10-0 run, led by Will Tatum. His three-pointer with 2:06 left in the quarter cut the BA lead to 29-26. Tatum scored nine of his team-high 13 points in the quarter.
Evans and Spence rallied the Gators but PCA kept the pressure on. Bulloch took a slim 34-30 lead by the buzzer.
Spence scored four quick points in the fourth to pull Bulloch to double the Gator lead, 38-30, early in the quarter. Fellow junior Ross Rainey also upped his play, netting all of his six points in the final eight minutes.
Something flipped a switch in Cornett and Twala as their combined defense became rock solid. Evans also became a master thief, stealing numerous balls from the Patriots. The trio helped limit the visitors to just six fourth-quarter points.
The Gators travel to Stillmore on Thursday to face the Eagles.
Bulloch 38, PCA 29 (B-team)
Bill Sheppard scored 11 points and Will Marsh added eight as the BA boys’ b-team opened the afternoon with a victory over the Patiots.
Reid Swindell scored eight for PCA while Joseph Kennedy added six.