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Lady Gators drop opener
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Bulloch Academy's Abby Newton, center, grabs an offensive rebound amongst a sea of Augusta Prep arms and hands during the fourth quarter of Tuesday's game at Gator Alley during Bulloch Academy's season-opening tournament. Augusta Prep walked away with a 46-33 victory, but the Gators will have opportunities to grab their first win of the season with more tournament games scheduled for today and Thursday. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff


   
    Bulloch Academy’s 2016 season started off on a bad note with a 46-33 loss to Augusta Prep Tuesday night.
    The 13-point loss was due in part to the fact BA is down a number of key players. Three contributors are out at the state cheerleading meet while two others are out with injury. This forced Paul Webb to play just six players for the night, making four play all 32 minutes in the game.
    BA played a competitive first half to only be down 22-17, but the third quarter saw the real fatigue set in for the Lady Gators. Bulloch Academy would miss their first seven shots and turn the ball over six times in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
    “Any early season game you’ll have rusty shooting,” Webb said. “But you have to compound that with all of our injuries. But it’s a great opportunity to show these girls how to play through this stuff.”
    Abby Newton, running her first game at point guard and as the primary ball handler, struggled controlling the offense once she got the ball past half court. Four of those six turnovers came in that area, and Augusta Prep would convert all of them into points.
    Augusta would put together an eight-point run before MiKay Sands finally hit a turnaround jumper in the paint to give BA their first points of the quarter with 3:43 left to play. Marlee Williams would score the only other bucket for BA in the third as they’d be outscored 12-4.
    “We haven’t played a full game in a year,” Sands said. “It’s understandable that we’d be slow to start out.”
    But the fourth quarter saw a much more staunch effort on the part of BA. The Lady Gators shot 6-of-14 from two-point range, getting buckets from Sands, Williams, Newton and Regan Ellis — who shot 2 for 4 in the fourth quarter.
    “This bunch will come back and work hard no matter what,” Webb said. “Once we get our depth back we’ll be much better.”
    But even while BA shot a much better fourth quarter, Augusta Prep shot better. The Pirates shot 5 of 12 in the paint and would only commit three turnovers, matched by BA’s three turnovers in the quarter.
    The three-point line was BA’s enemy all night. The Lady Gators were 0 of 12 from beyond the arch, but even while Augusta wasn’t much better shooting 1 for 13 from three — BA still lost points from their inability to shoot.
    Three’s weren’t the only struggle for BA Tuesday night. BA was 14 of 39 (35.9 percent) from two point range and 6 of 13 in the paint, with Sands scoring on five of those makes. Sands was
    consistently fed the ball all night long, but Augusta had strong post defenders in Harper Sims and Molly Joseph to defend Sands’ offense.
    In all, Sands would finish 6 of 16 shooting for 12 points and 15 rebounds, five off the offensive boards. Despite the loss, BA would out rebound Augusta Prep 39 to 38. But Webb still thinks it wasn’t his team’s best rebounding effort.
    “I didn’t think we had our best night rebounding,” Webb said. “That’s something we’ll need to work on. We can use these next games to make those improvements.”
    Regan Ellis would lead BA in scoring with 13 points on 6 for 10 shooting with eight rebounds. Ellis and Sands, albeit in a one game sample, look to be a formidable front court once the guard depth finally falls in line.
    BA (0-1) continues play tonight at 7:00 p.m. against GHSA class 5A New Hampstead.