Senior Pate Lomax banked in an offensive rebound with 23.4 seconds left to lead the Bulloch Academy girls to a thrilling 61-59 victory over Westfield Saturday.
The Lady Gators (7-0) never led in the contest and were down by as many as nine points in the fourth quarter.
“Westfield had really improved since we played them earlier in the season,” said BA head coach Paul Webb. “We beat them by 15 (52-37 on Nov. 13) but it was much closer than that. They have four players who are as good as anybody so I knew it was going to be a close game.”
Bulloch rallied back in the final period, inching closer as the clock wound down. Senior Ashley Burke, who led BA with 18 points, drove the lane with 3:57 left and notched a bucket to cut the WF lead to 57-55. The squads jockeyed for position in the following moments. But junior Sarah Evans nailed an eight-footer from the left wing to tie the score at 57-57. Evans had 10 on the night.
“Not much had gone right during the whole game,” said Webb. “I loved the way our girls responded in the fourth, outscoring Westfield 17-8 for the win. They showed a lot of grit.”
With 1:17 left, Lomax gave BA its first lead of the night, 59-57 when she put back an offensive rebound. Lady Hornet senior Chelsea Whatley, who had been on fire the whole game, knotted the score at 59 with under a minute left. Whatley scored a game-high 21.
Bulloch brought the ball down again and took three errant shots. But Lomax, who had 16, tickled the net with her soft touch with under 25 seconds left for the lead.
The Lady Gators built a wall around their basket when the Lady Hornets brought the ball down for their final chance. Junior Unique Tuberville got the ball in the middle and put up a turnaround jumper with 3.2 left. The ball bounced off the rim and Burke got the rebound. She was fouled with 1.1 seconds left. The inbounds pass was true and the horn sounded to end the nailbiter.
Tuberville had been an inside force for Westfield, backing Whatley up by scoring 17. Katlyn Moseley added nine and Jackie Bard had eight. For Bulloch, both Mikay Sands and Page Spence netted eight each.
Westfield 48, Bulloch 42 (Boys)
Senior Will Marsh scored 14 while classmate Marvin Perkins added nine but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Hornets of Perry in the late game Saturday.
Although the Gators (2-1) took a 6-0 lead in the opening quarter, Bulloch found it hard to match the speed and quickness of the Westfield bunch. Junior Giles Amos seemed to glide through the BA zone and was tough in the middle. He scored seven in the opening quarter and led the visitors with 13 points. Fellow junior Markese Watkins netted 11.
Westfield (2-0) took an 11-8 lead after the first quarter and slowly increased it to 18-10 in the second. Marsh scored eight of his total in the opening half and did his part to help keep the Gators in the game. The BA defense worked hard on rebounding and slowing down the Hornets. The Gators shot poorly from both field and the free-throw line. Westfield took a 24-16 lead at the half.
Amos extended the WF lead to 10, 26-16, early in the third. The Gators doubled their efforts behind Marsh, Perkins, seniors Smith Reeves and Will Rushing and junior Lanier Olliff. BA went on an 8-2 run which ended when Marsh dumped in a bucket with 4:54 left to cut the lead to four, 28-24. Westfield was able to fish out a 35-30 lead at the horn. Tolliver had seven points on the night while Olliff added six.
Bulloch continued to scratch and claw in the fourth, senior Jaylen Tolliver canned a pair of free throws with 6:32 left to cut the lead to three, 37-34. But Westfield was able to rally back and burn the clock for the win.
Both Bulloch squads travel to Augusta Tuesday to battle Westminster and visit Hilton Head Island, South Carolina for tournament action Friday and Saturday.