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Great basketball seasons remembered

While sitting at Thursday night’s Bainbridge High School basketball awards banquet with Decatur County School Superintendent Ralph Jones and my dear friend and No. 1 BHS sports fan, Billy Simmons Jr., many thoughts raced through my mind.

As Bearcats head coach Rickey McCullough and Lady Cats head coach Latreisha Moon talked about their teams and presented awards and honors to them, I first thought about how both teams won championships in the Region 1AAAA Tournament, being held for the final time at the Decatur County Memorial Coliseum.

I also thought about the teams advancing to the state Class AAAA Final Four the same season for the first time in school history.

I thought of many thrilling moments both teams provided the fans during the season. There was the clutch first of two free throw attempts hit by Bria Harris with just 4.5 seconds remaining in overtime at the coliseum that gave the Lady Cats a 58-57 overtime victory over the Harlem High School Lady Bulldogs and a berth in the Elite 8 round of the state Class AAAA tournament.

I also remembered Harris alertly getting the rebound following her second free throw miss and getting it out to Region 1AAAA player of the year Alexis Burke, who dribbled out the clock.

I remembered Melzie Johnson and Marquis Williams combining for 28 points to lead the Bearcats to a 55-44 victory over the homestanding Maclay High School Marauders in the championship game of the Maclay High School Holiday Hoops Tournament just before Christmas in Tallahassee, Fla. Johnson led the way with 16 and Williams put in 12.

Johnson was named the tournament’s most valuable player, and Williams joined him on the All-Tournament first team.

I remembered Lady Cats senior captain Zaikia Dawson driving the lane for numerous baskets to help lead her team to key victories.

Just as is the case with any sports team, senior leadership was an integral part of the Bearcats and Lady Cats success this past season.

Bearcats seniors in addition to Johnson and captain Williams were Antroine Williford, captain James Lodman, Eric Vickers, Jonathan Taylor and Jontaurus Osborne.

It was Williford’s strong rebounding performance at Fort Valley State University that helped lead the Bearcats to a 50-46 Elite 8 round victory over the Statesboro High School Blue Devils that nailed down their berth in the Final 4. His key rebounds and put back were critical throughout the game.

Lady Cats seniors in addition to captain Dawson were Vanessa Jones, LaShawnda Middleton, Megan Bell and T’Keyhah Thomas.

Thursday’s banquet was a fitting way to allow reporters like myself and fans like Billy to relive some of the many exciting moments of arguably the greatest combined Bearcats and Lady Cats basketball season in Bainbridge High School history.

It was fitting that two members of those teams, guards Marquis Williams of the Bearcats and Zaikia Dawson of the Lady Cats, were named Bainbridge High School’s male and female senior athletes of the year on Monday.

They are both fine young people with high character, I look forward to hearing many more good things about them as they continue their basketball careers with the Jeff Davis Community College Warhawks in Brewton, Ala., and the Darton College Lady Cavaliers in Albany.