Bearcats Region champs
Coach Rickey McCullough’s Bainbridge Bearcats are Region 1AAAA champions and will host the Ola High School Mustangs from McDonough, the fourth-place team from Region 4AAAA, in a first-round state Class AAAA Tournament game Friday at 7 p.m. at the Bainbridge High School gymnasium.
Admission will be $7.
They opened Region 1AAAA tournament play Wednesday at Westside Macon High School with a 73-49 first-round victory over the Harris County High School Tigers as Devon Baulkman led the way with a game-high 28 points.
The Bearcats nailed down the championship with 67-58 and 58-49 Friday and Saturday semifinal and final round wins over the Upson-Lee High School Knights and the Hardaway High School Golden Hawks from Columbus.
Saturday’s championship game win over Hardaway was the Bearcats’ 17th victory in a row. They are 25-4 overall. Ola is 11-16.
In Friday’s semifinal round win over Upson-Lee, the Bearcats were led by Devon Baulkman with a game-high 26 points. Joining him in the double-figure scoring column were Davario Thomas with 17 and Justin Harris with 14.
Rounding out the Friday scoring chart for the Bearcats were Shawn Samuels with 4, Rodney Glenn and Jamar Venizy-Cosby with 2 apiece, and Jeremy Harper and Rohan Gaines with 1 each.
Jacarus Carthon was high for the Knights with 15. Narteso Howell added 13 and Quent Howell put in 12.
McCullough said he thought his team’s defense effort was the key to Friday’s win over Upson-Lee.
“Upson-Lee was a quick guard-oriented team,” the Bearcats head coach said. “We knew they had a strong outside shooting guard in Quenten Howell. We did a good job of keeping him and the other Upson-Lee guards in check.”
In Saturday night’s championship game win over Hardaway, the Bearcats featured a balanced scoring attack with three men in double figures. Harris took game-scoring honors with 14 points. Thomas and Gaines added 10 each.
Completing the Bearcats’ scoring column Saturday were Glenn with 9, Baulkman with 6, Harper with 5 and Samuels and Venizee-Cosby with 2 each.
“Hardaway, unlike Upson-Lee, liked to get the ball inside rather than to their guards,” McCullough said.
Their big man inside was Marcus Smith, a 6-foot-5 center who signed a football scholarship with the University of Louisville as a quarterback. He was their leading scorer, but the Bearcats held him to just 13 points. Jabari Clemons was their only other player in double figures with 11, McCullough said.