BA sweeps through Augusta Prep
January marks a new beginning for many people setting resolutions, and for the Bulloch Academy boys’ basketball team it’s been more of a revelation than anything else.
BA’s 54-52 win over Augusta Prep makes them 7-1 in the new year, a far cry from their 3-9 start to the season. Propelled by midseason addition Dra Harrison and an upswing in performance from Don Aaron, BA is unquestionably the hottest team in Bulloch County.
“A lot of our guys got better during the kind of schedule we played in December,” said head coach Chandler Dennard. “Obviously picking up Dra was a huge help too, he’s given us a big offensive punch we’ve been lacking.”
Harrison, who scored 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting with eight rebounds tonight, has been a key figure in the resurgence. He’s scored 20 plus points five times already since mid-December when he transferred from GHSA Southeast Bulloch and was key in helping BA pull out a win against scrappy Augusta team Thursday night.
After nine, first half lead changes, BA would seize control the the game in the third quarter off a 9-5 run in the first two and a half minutes of play. Harrison and Chad Lanier would combine to score all nine of those points, while BA as a team would force four turnovers within the run.
Don Aaron hit a three to extend the run to 12-5 and the score 44-36, eventually leading to a 47-38 third quarter lead for the Gators. Harrison would score seven points in a 15-7 quarter for BA, but Augusta was quick to flip the switch.
“The second half we really played well defensively,” Dennard said. “They just didn’t have anywhere to go with the ball.”
After both teams came out sloppy with four turnovers in four combined possessions to start the final eight minutes, Jay Lee broke it up with a jumper but would be answered by Brett Thomas with another one on the opposite end of the court.
With the score now 49-40, Augusta started to kick things into another gear by drawing a couple of offensive fouls and forcing some opportune turnovers in order to work themselves back into the game. Five of Augusta’s 14 four quarter points came by free throws, all while BA scrambled players on and off the bench with Lanier, Seth Brant and Steven Henry all carrying four fouls.
With 1:17 left in the game, Reab Berry stole the ball from Thomas and took it coast-to-coast for a transition bucket to bring the score to 52-49. Harrison followed by picking up a loose ball off the floor after an errant pass to sink a mid-range jumper to make it a two-possession game with under a minute left.
Even after Augusta would sink a three with 11 second left and had the ball on the last possession following a missed free throw by Harrison, the junior transfer manned up Miles Downing to miss the final attempt and seal the win.
“We let them get back into the game with some turnovers, and we have to do a better job playing with a lead like that,” Dennard said.
Aaron finished the game with 14 points, while Lanier chipped in nine points. BA would finish game shooting 54 percent from the field (20-37) and a 60 percent clip from three (3-5).
BA (10-10, 4-4) will come back home Tuesday to pick up region play against Pinewood (9-13, 0-4) at 7:30 p.m.
Girls eek one out vs. Augusta
It took 23 shots, but Bulloch Academy needed all 26 of MiKay Sands’ points to topple Augusta Prep Day 52-47 Thursday night.
Sands’ night included 11 rebounds and three blocks as well, in which nothing easy came the six-foot senior’s way. In all but two of her shot attempts she was either double-teamed or triple-teamed in the post, yet she was still able to put up her 11th 20-point game this season.
“We work hard to get her the ball and we’ve done a better job of setting up plays for her to get the ball,” said head coach Paul Webb. “We go as she goes on offense.”
Sands helped the Gators pull away from a two-point lead to a eight-point lead after she contributed to an 11-5 run in the first three minutes of the third quarter. However Augusta slowly started to suck their defenders in on Sands and forced the Gator offense into a rut.
From that point on BA didn’t score another bucket in the third quarter, shooting 0-6 from the floor and committing four turnovers. Meanwhile Augusta were able to hit three of their last four shots of the quarter to shrink BA’s lead 32-31, the smallest it had been all night.
Harper Sims scored off an Abby Newton turnover on the opening possession of the fourth quarter to give Augusta their first lead of the night, but down on the other side of the floor Regan Ellis would answer off a pass from Newton to give the Gators the lead back.
“I thought Regan had a really good game against Trinity but it just didn’t show up on the scoreboard Tuesday,” Webb said. “It was nice to see her effort show show up on offense this time around.”
Sands would come through on another basket the next possession to make it 36-33, then two possessions later Newton — after starting the game 0-5 from the field — nailed a corner three off an inbounds pass from Maddie Cowart to make it 39-33.
Augusta would respond with a 9-4 run powered by five points, two rebounds and two assists by Banks Collier -- who finished the night with 14 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Following
a three-pointer by Collier to make it yet again a one point game, Sands came down the floor to draw a foul and sink two free throws to make the score 45-42.
On their way to answer Augusta was picked by Newton, who was fouled following the steal and converted both of her free throws as well. Now down too much with two little time left, Augusta resorted to fouling, and BA would convert three of their four fouls shots down the stretch to seal the game.
“Earlier this year I feel like we fold in those late game situations,” Webb said. “But we’ve been playing with a lot more confidence lately and it’s been showing up on the scoreboard.”
The surprise of the game came in the form of Ellis, who scored 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting and added three assists to play a key role in BA’s win. Newton would end the game with seven points, seven boards and a pair of blocks.
Now the ladies (13-10, 2-2) will take the weekend off before strapping back up Tuesday at home to face Pinewood (18-3, 3-1) at home on Tuesday.