Quite a feat

Published 9:56 pm Tuesday, March 16, 2010

For a high school basketball program to make the state Final 4 once is quite an accomplishment, but to make it two consecutive seasons with two completely different starting fives is truly outstanding.

During the 2008-2009 school year, the senior starting five of Antroine Williford, James Lodman, Melzie Johnson, Marquis Williams and Eric Vickers led the Bearcats to the Region 1AAAA championship and the Maclay High School Holiday Hoops Tournament championship in Tallahassee, Fla.

They also earned a berth in the state Class AAAA Final 4 where they dropped a heart-breaking 72-66 decision to the Tucker High School Tigers.

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This season, featuring a new starting five of Devon Baulkman, Jeremy Harper, Justin Harris, Rohan Gaines and Davario Thomas, the Bearcats again won the Region 1AAAA championship and advanced to the state Class AAAA Final 4 at the Gwinnett Center where they dropped another heart-breaker, 50-46, to the Mays High School Raiders of Atlanta.

Thomas unfortunately missed some key playoff games down the stretch with a wrist injury. James Hudson came off the bench to hit some key baskets.

For the record, Mays went on to lose 67-35 to the Miller Grove High School Wolverines in the state Class AAAA championship game. It was the second consecutive state Class AAAA championship for the Wolverines, which downed the Richmond Academy Musketeers from Augusta 61-60 in the semifinals.

Bearcats head coach Rickey McCullough, the common denominator for the Bearcats’ two straight state Class AAAA Final 4 teams, said this season’s Bearcat team has gotten more out of their potential than any other team he has coached in his 35-year coaching career.

Bainbridge and Decatur County is fortunate to have a coach the caliber of Coach McCullough leading our Bainbridge High School Bearcats basketball program.

Before coming to Bainbridge, he spent 26 years as head coach at Chipley, Fla., High School where he had an outstanding 599-229 record and led his teams to 20 district championships and 15 regional championships.

He was Florida Athletic Coaches Association (FACA) district coach of the year five times and Panhandle Athletic Conference coach of the year 10 times.

In 2002, Coach McCullough was FACA coach of the year and Florida Dairy Farmers State of Florida coach of the year.

He was North Florida All-Star head coach in 2003.

To accomplish what the Bearcats have accomplished under coach McCullough the past two years you have to have great leadership at the top and the Bearcats have it with coach McCullough.