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Lady Gators off to fast start in opening victory

History buffs will tell you that the moniker ‘The Big Three’ was given to the leaders of the United States, Great Britain and Russia during World War II.

The Bulloch Academy Lady Gators have their own version of ‘The Big Three’ in senior Taylor Collins, junior Anna Newton and senior Haley Burke and they kicked off the season with a super showing Tuesday in the sixth annual Lady Gator Classic basketball tournament.

Collins scored 16 points, Newton added 14 and Burke had eight as Bulloch Academy whipped Hilton Head Christian Academy 59-30 in the tournament’s second game of the night.

"Taylor was great on the offensive boards," said BA head coach Paul Webb. "Anna and Haley played really well offensively as well. All three have gotten a lot more aggressive and physical."

In the opening game of the tournament, Morgan Cook scored 11 points as Brentwood came from behind to beat Bible Baptist of Savannah 36-28.

In the finale, Bulloch Academy (1-0) jumped out to a 14-3 lead by the end of the first quarter and never looked back. The Lady Gators came out with defense on their minds as they covered the Lady Eagles with a tight man defense and an even tighter backcourt press.

Burke hit the bucket of the season at the 6:20 mark, a running jumper at the foul line. From there, Collins had two quick layups of HHC turnovers. Newton got into scoring act when she hit her trademark jumper from the elbow. She scored eight quick points in the opening eight minutes.

The Lady Gators hustled up and down the court with a quick, uptempo style that yielded numerous Hilton Head turnovers and BA shot opportunities.

Webb substituted freely at the beginning of the second quarter and sophomore Danielle Atkinson took full advantage of her playing time by hitting the first BA basket of the second eight minutes. Bulloch poured on the gas, outscoring the Lady Eagles 24-6 for a 38-9 halftime advantage. Collins was a monster underneath, clearing out the middle and picking up points on offensive rebounds. She scored 10 in the quarter.

Burke opened the third quarter by banking an eight-foot runner off the glass for a 40-9 lead at the 7:51 mark. Webb gave his second and third teams plenty of playing time in the quarter as he mixed and matched players.

"We’re going to use November and the first part of December to determine which of the younger girls can help us and which need another year of B-team play," said Webb. "I was disappointed in the second half. We lacked intensity but overall it was a good start."

The Lady Eagles (0-1) outscored Bulloch 13-4 in the third. Audrey Bensch and Francisca Guidibono scored four of their team-high six points. Reilly Malphrus also had six for HHC.

BA freshman Ashley Burke netted eight points and sophomore Ashlee Lanier added five. Juniors Mary Margaret Reeves and Lauren Dennard and sophomores Atkinson and Brooke Gilbert had bucket each.

The opening game of the tournament was tight.

The Lady Eagles from Sandersville held a slight 9-8 lead by the end of the first quarter but Bible Baptist outscored them 11-7 in the second quarter for a 19-16 halftime lead.

Edwin Cook’s bunch turned up the heat in the third as Brentwood outpointed BB 13-5 for a 29-24 lead. The Lady Eagles held on for the win.

Taylor Stone and Brooke Hinton had eight points each for Brentwood while Lyndsey Conley scored 11 for Bible Baptist.

Today’s games begin at 5:30 p.m. when Frederica Academy from St. Simons Island takes on David Emanuel Academy from Stillmore. At 7 p.m., Robert Toombs from Lyons battles Trinity Christian of Dublin. At 8:30, Bulloch Academy faces Brentwood.

In case you’re still wondering, the ‘Big Three’ from World War II were Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin.