It could’ve been the senior night magic or perhaps the quality of opponent in a struggling Islands squad, but on Friday night, everything was working for Southeast Bulloch. From the get-go, the pace was fast.
Minutes into the game, sophomore A.J. Williams lobbed the ball to senior Janard Mike. Mike missed the pass and instead resorted to hanging on the rim, earning a technical foul.
That was about the only flaw the Yellow Jackets produced as they went on to win 86-51.
“It was (the seniors) last regular season game here,” SEB coach Matt Kuykendall said. “We may host one in the playoffs, but I’m glad they were able to get that kind of game.”
Senior Jordyn Bradford hit a three to give the home team a five point lead. Southeast Bulloch lead 19-12 at the end of the first quarter and never looked back.
Bradford continued to make 3-pointers with confidence, turning away from shots very Steph Curry-like. Williams broke through Islands’ trap attempt, finding whoever wanted to score. And junior Ryan Swanson orchestrated the biggest win for the Yellow Jackets of the season.
It took the full team, from sophomore Kristian Clark scoring 20 points to bench players like sophomore Omaris Coleman helping facilitate the flow of the night.
“Really proud of those three seniors, Ben Proctor, Jordyn Bradford, Janard Mike,” Kuykendall said. “We talked before the game about playing the way they play which is unselfish, team-first and giving everything they got. Everyone on the team did that tonight. We followed their lead.”
And then there was Mike’s dunk. On a run that was more than 20 points long, Southeast Bulloch completely smothered the Sharks. Mike got a steal and threw one down to bring the crowd to its feet.
It was almost as nice as his final shot at home. With 1:41 remaining in the game, Mike stepped back and hit a 3, the last of his 16 points, before the three seniors were pulled.
Bradford finished with three made three pointers for 17 total points on the night and Williams had 11.
Lady Jackets 48, Lady Sharks 40
It took her a half, but Southeast Bulloch freshman point guard Madison Taylor found her footing to lead the Lady Yellow Jackets to a 48-40 Senior Night victory against Islands on Friday.
On defense, Taylor pestered an inexperienced Sharks team to no end, coming up with several steals and forcing turnovers. On the other end, Taylor let it fly, finishing with 13 points including a pair of 3-pointers.
Freshman Ansleigh Littles started the scoring for the Yellow Jackets and then turned around and picked up a block. Senior Jayden Smith continued the offensive storm with a 3 to make it 5-0 early.
Islands responded with a long-range connection of their own and drew a foul. The Sharks couldn’t capitalize on the free possession as they turned it over.
After a fair share of turnovers from both teams, Southeast Bulloch led 12-11.
A foul-filled second quarter gave Islands its first lead of the night with a minute left in the first half. With the game tied at 16, the Jackets had the ball and used the final 45 seconds to set up a final shot.
Taylor dribbled for 30 seconds, then drove on the left side of the paint. She settled for a midrange jumper that bounced off the rim.
Annoyed that there was no call on the last shot of the half, Taylor came out of halftime with another 3. Then another steal. Then another 3.
Southeast Bulloch stretched its lead to 10 before committing turnovers and fouls. Islands cut the lead to 39-36 with just over two minutes left, but that was as much as they could manage.
Littles finished with 13 points and Katie Fuller had nine.
Now sitting at 6-6 in region play, the Jackets will travel to Groves Tuesday for the penultimate game of the regular season.