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Bearcats defeat Hardaway 71-54

Antroine Williford poured in a game-high 19 points Wednesday night, leading a balanced Bainbridge High School Bearcats scoring attack, as they defeated Columbus’ Hardaway High School Golden Hawks 71-54 in the first round of the Region 1AAAA tournament.

The win, at the Decatur County Memorial Coliseum, advanced the Bearcats into Friday’s 8:30 p.m. second-round game where they play the Upson-Lee High School Knights, who defeated the Americus-Sumter County High School Panthers 76-46 Tuesday.

Friday’s other game, at 5:30 p.m., features the Thomas Country Central High School Yellow Jackets against the Westside Macon High School Seminoles.

On Wednesday, the Yellow Jackets defeated the Harris County High School Tigers 65-53, and the Seminoles defeated the Jones County High School Greyhounds 69-51.

Friday’s two winners advance to Saturday’s 8:30 p.m. tournament championship game. The two Friday losers will play for third- and fourth-place Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The top four teams will all advance to the state Class AAAA tournament.

The Bearcats never trailed Wednesday against Hardaway.

James Lodman, who finished with 10, put them up 2-0 when he hit a layup off the right glass just 28 seconds into the game.

After Marcus Smith hit a layup at the 5:14 mark to tie it up 2-2, Williford countered with a jumper from the right side at the 5:05 mark to put the Bearcats back on top 4-2.

Mike Woods got the Golden Hawks back even 4-4 with a rebound and put back at the 4:25 mark. Marquis Williams, who scored 11, hit a 3-point jumper from the right side to put the Bearcats up to stay 7-4.

Lodman followed with a rebound and put back off the left glass at the 3:20 mark to make it 9-4.

After Williford and Marcus Smith, who led the Golden Hawks with 18, traded baskets at the 2:35 and 2:23 marks, increasing the score to 11-6, layups by Lodman at the 1:28 and 1:16 marks sent the Bearcats to the second quarter with a 15-6 lead.

The Golden Hawks went on a 10-0 second-quarter scoring run in the second quarter to cut an 11-point, 19-8 Bearcats lead to just one, at 19-18.

The 10-0 Golden Hawks run started with a jumper from the left side by Denoris Scott at the 6:02 mark, continued with a a 3-point jumper by Scott at the 5:23 mark and a layup by Smith at the 4:52 mark, and concluded with a 3-point jumper by Scott at the 4:13 mark.

The Bearcats bounced back to outscore the Golden Hawks 13-4 the rest of the quarter and take a 32-22 halftime lead. Key basket in the stretch run was a 3-point jumper from the right side by Williams at the 1:52 mark.

A reverse layup off the left glass by Johnson at the 4:37 mark of the third quarter increased the Bearcats’ lead to 15, at 39-24. They led 50-37 at the end of the third quarter and maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way.