Bulloch Academy point guard Ashley Burke used her superb ball-handling skills and quickness to lead the Lady Gators to a 61-46 victory over Deerfield-Windsor School in the opening round of the GISA Class AAA girls’ basketball tournament Tuesday night.
The senior netted 22 points and kept the ball out of the hands of the dangerous Lady Knights. When she wasn’t dribbling around or through the DWS defense, she was picking off passes, grabbing loose balls or creating turnovers.
With the win, Bulloch (25-4) gets the luxury of hosting Friday’s quarterfinal game and faces the Westminster of Augusta at 6 p.m. Earlier in the day, the Lady Wildcats (20-7) battered Trinity Christian School of Sharpsburg 60-39. Sophomore guard Zakira Goldsberry scored a game-high 25 points and senior center Amber Davis added. 11.
The Bulloch Academy boys’ were set to host first-round action in the state tournament today but, due to inclement weather and concerns over travel safety, the games have been postponed until Thursday.
The cat-quick Burke opened the BA-DWS game by taking the tip-off from senior forward Pate Lomax and laying it in. Bulloch added seven more points to take a 9-0 lead at the 6:44 mark. BA’s 2-2-1 half-court trap created chaos among the Lady Knight guards.
But DWS (14-13) fought through the confusion and battled back, cutting the lead to 11-5 by the four-minute mark. Burke hit a three-pointer with 2:20 left for a 16-7 lead.
Another long-distance Burke basket, this one at the 7:38 mark of the second quarter, put BA up by 10, 19-9.
Lomax and sophomore center Mikay Sands, who had 14 on the night, dominated the middle, sweeping the boards clean and making the going tough for the Lady Knights.
Burke looked like an experienced pick-pocket on a busy city street as she lifted the ball from DWS ball-handlers and took it the other way for points. Her steal and layup with 4:10 left gave the Gator girls a 26-14 lead. Bulloch took a 31-19 advantage in the locker room.
Two things happened in the third to which allowed Deerfield back into the game; DWS guard Hannah Mills became Burke’s shadow and Lomax left early with an injury.
Mills stuck as close to Burke as an identical twin sister and limited her to only six second-half points. At the 5:15 mark, Lomax was going up for a loose ball, came down awkwardly and fell to the floor in obvious pain. She left the court, favoring her right ankle. She spent the rest of the quarter on the trainer’s table.
Freshman Olivia Collins came in for Lomax and was able to chip in six points in the third. But the remainder of the quarter was made for speed as both squads zipped up and down the court in fast-break mode. DWS pulled to within 15, 45-30, when senior Joyner Tyson hit a three with 1:20 left.
Lomax returned in the fourth but DWS was able to crawl back into the game.
The Lady Knights deployed their own half-court trap as Mills upped her game on Burke. BA turnovers ensued and led to DWS scores. Kelsey King’s trey at the 5:55 mark cut the BA lead to 10, 51-41.
But that was as close as the Lady Knights were able to get. Lomax got back into her rhythm, ruling the paint with sands and scoring four of her eight points. Burke seemed to gain a step or two on Mills and was able to thread the Lady Knight press.
Bulloch got the lead back to 15, 57-42, with 3:10 left and was able to defend the ball and burn the clock.