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Lady Gators fall to Trinity
Bulloch Academy junior Haley Burke battles for a rebound in first half action. - photo by BRYAN BURKE/Special to the Herald

DeleteDUBLIN — Trinity Christian School senior Anna Claire Knight went over 3,000 points for her high school career while leading the top-seeded Lady Crusaders to a 52-24 victory over fifth-seeded Bulloch Academy Friday afternoon in a semi-final matchup of the GISA Region 4-AAA basketball tournament.
    Knight, who signed with a basketball scholarship with Georgia Southern University in December, pushed home a layup with approximately 30 seconds left in the second quarter to reach the milestone. The smooth guard had a game-high 27 points and currently has 3,012 points.
    The Lady Gators (18-10) return to Dublin today for a 4 p.m. consolation contest with John Milledge. Depending on the outcome of the game, Bulloch will enter the first round of the GISA Class AAA state tournament, which begins Wednesday at John Milledge Academy in Milledgeville, as the third or fourth seed from Region 4-AAA.
    On Thursday, BA secured a berth in the first round of state tournament with a miraculous 27-25 victory over Westminster of Augusta. Junior center Taylor Collins hit a long-range jumper at the buzzer for the win.
    The senior-laden Lady Crusaders (27-4) battle Pinewood Christian for the region title tonight at 7 p.m.
    Friday afternoon, the Lady Gators hung tough with the Lady Crusaders in the opening eight minutes. Bulloch used a box-and-one strategy to try to control Knight. And it worked, for a while.
    TCS scored the first six points before Bulloch cut the lead to 6-4 on an Anna Newton put back at the 3:51 mark. The sophomore forward had six of her eight points in the quarter.
    The quick Trinity guards caused BA numerous turnovers. But the Lady Gators didn’t quit and continued to trade blows and baskets with the Dublin squad. A Knight three-pointer at the 2:35 mark put TCS up 11-6. Bulloch was able to counter the taller Crusaders with strong inside play. Newton’s drive and layup with 1.4 seconds in the quarter kept the TCS lead at just five, 15-10.
    In the second quarter, the fur began to fly as the Crusaders started to overpower the Lady Gators. They used a smothering man defense, an aggressive full-court press, crisp passing and good shooting to pull away from the Bulloch girls. Senior point guard Jordan Mimbs pushed in a layup at the 5:34 mark to give TCS a 21-10 lead.
    Bulloch’s halfcourt trap, which had been effective against Westminster Thursday night, was porous against the Lady Crusaders. TCS controlled the boards on both ends of the court, limiting Bulloch to one or two shots while having three or four chances themselves.
    The Gators were also cursed with poor shooting. Kailey Belote, Dayna Johnson and Sydney Bozeman teamed to neutralize Bulloch’s main weapons, Newton and Collins. Collins, Thursday night’s hero, led the Lady Gators with 12 points but only four came in the first half.
    Trinity capitalized on Bulloch’s tough times and took a 29-14 lead at the break, outscoring the girls from Statesboro 14-4 in the quarter.
    Both teams came out rough in the third quarter. BA kept pushing the ball inside and Collins got six. Trinity netted seven to keep the lead in double digits, 36-20.
    Things went from bad to worse in the final quarter. The Lady Crusaders stretched the lead to 20, 40-20, with 5:50 left in the game and outscored BA 16-4 to bring the score to its final.