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RTCA muscles way past BA
BA Rocker  RT Stokes battle fo
Bulloch Academy's Mark Rocker (left) and Robert Toombs’ Lance Stokes (right) battle for a rebound during Thursday’s action at BA. - photo by BRYAN BURKE/Special to the Herald

    The Robert Toombs Christian Academy Crusaders used the height of Lance Stokes, the muscle of Jacob Raiford and the quickness of Toreea Stokes to down Bulloch Academy 72-61 Thursday.
    Bulloch (3-1) never led in the contest but was able to rally back time and time again from double-digit deficits. Down 34-25 at halftime, the Gators cut the RTCA lead to five on several occasions in the third. But the final five-point swing came when BA point guard Arne Bencker drained a three-pointer at the 3:47 mark for a 40-35 score.
    “We had our chances,” said BA head coach Chandler Dennard. “But we missed some important free throws during that stretch and got outrebounded.”
    On the night, Bulloch hit just 10 of 22 shots from the line with many of those being the first shot of a one-and-one opportunity. Throughout the night, Lance Stokes and Raiford had the upper hand in the war of rebounds but BA center Paul Son made his presence felt during the rough-and-tumble battle. Son had 15 for Bulloch while both Stokes and Raiford had 12 each.  
    At times, RTCA point guard Toreea Stokes flashed by Gator defenders as he drove hard to the basket, but so did Bencker and Walker, both of whom led the Gators with 17 points each.
When Bulloch closed the gap in the third, the Crusaders (2-0) flexed their collective muscles and outpointed BA 12-6 for a 52-41 lead at the end of three. During the run, RTCA’s Matt Parker scored eight of the game-high 23 points. Jared Johnson chipped in four of his 14.
    Bulloch guard Will Powell, who had 10 for Bulloch, started off the final quarter by drilling a three pointer but the Crusaders soon deflated the moment. RTCA slowly increased its advantage in the fourth, pulling out to a 15-point lead at one point late in the game.
    The Gators rallied from a 10-2 deficit in the opening quarter and then early in the second when the Crusaders pulled out to a 13-point lead, 24-11. A strong Son lead the charge in the second, going hard to the hold to help BA pull to within six, 24-19, at the 3:45 mark. Powell hit a pair of free throws with 2:24 lead to cut the lead to four, 25-21.
But the Crusaders took off and outscored the Gators 9-4 for their halftime advantage.
Bulloch travels to Douglas today to battle non-region foe Citizens Christian Academy.

Lady Crusaders 43, Lady Gators 38
    The Lady Crusaders used an 11-4 third-quarter surge and held on in the frantic fourth frame to beat the Bulloch girls.
    The Lady Gators (4-2) held a slim 25-23 lead at halftime after some inspired second-quarter play by senior Abi Foy, juniors Kaylee Lanier, Addie Reddick and Kinsley Mallard and sophomore Kaylee Dennard. Lanier led all BA scorers with eight points while Foy, Mallard and Dennard had six and Reddick had four.
    During the stretch, Bulloch’s players consistently hit the mid-range jumper and were able to get a few baskets insie
    But RTCA (4-2) bore down in the third as the Lady Crusader ‘Twin Towers’, 5-11 forward Nicole Alexander and 5-10 forward Jenna Delk, starting coming out a foot or two more, which made the Lady Gators back up and become unable to hit the jumper.
    Alexander and Delk, who had been getting beaten in the first half, concentrated more on defense in the second half and viturally shut down the Lady Gators. RTCA went on a 6-0 run in the third to wind up with a 34-29 lead and then pulled away late in the fourth quarter to lead by 11, 40-29, with a little over three minutes left.
    Alex Stanley was the RTCA offensive lead with a game-high 11 points while Hannah Dees added nine.

Crusaders 40, Gators 36 (B-team boys)
    Bulloch Academy freshmen Zach Altany had 12 points and Win Lee added 10 in a four-point loss which saw a big swing in momentum.
    In the opening quarter, BA (1-1) jumped out to a comfortable 16-7 lead. But RTCA outscored the Gators 17-7 in the second period for a 24-23 halftime advantage.
    RTCA had a 10-5 run in the third for a 34-28 lead. In a time-condensed fourth quarter, which was due to sub-varsity games being mandated to end by 6:15 p.m., Bulloch took a bucket lead but couldn’t hold it.
    The Crusaders’ Cameron Thomas led all scorers with 19 points.

Lady Gators, Lady Crusaders 26
(B-team girls)

    The Lady Gators overcame a goose egg in the opening quarter to take the victory.
    BA (1-1) didn’t score a point in the first quarter as the Lady Crusaders took a 7-0 lead after the first eight minutes. Bulloch thawed out in the second, scoring 11, but still was down 17-11.
    In the third, BA outscored RTCA 11-3 for a 22-20 lead and held on in the fourth.
    Bulloch eighth grader Taylor Collins led all scorers with 13 points while sophomore Morgan Anderson added seven. Madison McLendon led RTCA with 13.