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Cats move to Elite 8

Devon Baulkman poured in a game-high 33 points Tuesday night to lead the Bainbridge High School Bearcats to a 68-59 victory over the Evans High School Knights in the Sweet 16 round of the state Class AAAA basketball tournament.

They will play Glenn Hills of Augusta in the Elite 8 round at Fort Valley State University at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

The Bearcats took an early 6-0 lead on a jumper by Baulkman, a driving shot in the lane by Justin Harris and two free throws by Rodney Glenn.

Justin Black hit a jumper in the lane to cut it to 6-2, but Baulkman countered with a long three-point jumper to push the advantage out to seven, at 9-2.

The Knights then scored the next seven points to pull even 9-9. First Trevor Foreman hit free throws at the 3:21 and 2:07 marks, then Tony Davis, who led the Knights with 23 points, hit a layup, was fouled and hit a free throw at the 1:23 mark, then completed the run with two free throws at the 1:02 mark.

A layup and jumper by Harris in the last minute of the quarter sent the Bearcats to the second quarter with a 13-9 lead.

Consecutive three-point jumpers by James Hudson and Harris, who was second in the Bearcats’ scoring column with 12, at the beginning of the second quarter quickly moved the Bearcats’ lead out to eight, at 19-8. The Knights outscored the Bearcats 9-6 the rest of the quarter to go to halftime with a 27-25 lead.

The turning point in the game came early in the third quarter with Knights on top 37-30. The Bearcats quickly went on a 9-0 run to take a 39-37 lead.

Bearcats head coach Rickey McCullough said the go-ahead third-quarter run was sparked by an effective Bearcats press after Shawn Samuels came into the game at the post.

“Shawn Samuels is an undersized post, and when he comes into the game, we go to our press,” McCullough said. “When he came in tonight, we started getting turnovers and cutting down the lead.”

The run began with Samuels hitting a layup off the right glass to cut the lead to 37-32 with 2:59 left in the third quarter. Harris’ layup off the right glass at the 2:40 mark to cut it to 37-34 then Baulkman’s three-point jumper from beyond the head of the key with 2:26 left tied it 37-37.

Harris’ layup off the left glass then put the Bearcats ahead to stay 39-37. They were ahead 42-39 after three quarters. They went up by 11, 63-52 when Baulkman hit two field goals with 56 seconds remaining.