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Cage teams have strong leaders

It’s that time of year when I make the transition from Bainbridge High School Bearcats football coverage to BHS basketball coverage.

Both Bearcats and Lady Cats basketball teams had outstanding seasons a year ago. The Bearcats won the Region 1AAAA championship and reached the State Class AAAA Final Four for a second consecutive year. and the Lady Cats won the Region 1AAAA South Sub-Region championship and a berth in the State Class AAAA Tournament.

The Bearcats return senior forward Devon Baulkman, the Region 1AAAA boys player of the year who was also an honorable mention All-State Class AAAA selection by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Baulkman averaged 21 points and 9.1 rebounds a game during the 2009-2010 season.

Alexis Burke, the Region 1AAAA girls player of the year and the AJC’s Class AAAA girls player of the year, is now playing for the University of Illinois Lady Illini and must be replaced.

The Lady Cats do return five players who either started or saw significant playing time a year ago.

Back for the Lady Cats are senior Bria Harris, senior April Thomas, junior Briana Wade, junior Takeia Crankfield and junior Ri’Chana Jackson.

It is no secret why the Lady Cats and Bearcats have been successful the past several years.

Lady Cats Head Coach Latreisha Moon and Bearcats Head Coach Rickey McCullough are both outstanding leaders with strong backgrounds.

An All-Conference performer with the Lurleen B. Wallace Community College Saints in Andalusia, Ala. and the Alabama A&M University Lady Bulldogs in Normal, Ala., Coach Moon led the nation in rebounding with 17 a game as a senior All-American in 1998 when she also averaged 14 points a game.

Before coming to Bainbridge, Coach Moon spent two seasons as head girls basketball coach at Malone (Fla.) High School, where she had an impressive 48-16 record, going 26-6 in 2003-2004 and 22-10 on 2004-2005. She was Region 1AAAA coach of the year with the Lady Cats in 2006-2007.

Coach McCullough. who was inducted into the Florida Association of Basketball Coaches (FABC) 2010 Court of Legends Hall of Fame Saturday, May 15 in Orlando, has an extremely impressive record as well.

He has led his teams to outstanding basketball seasons for 34 years.

Last season during the Christmas holidays, he led the Bearcats to the championship of the Maclay High School Holiday Hoops Tournament in Tallahassee, Fla.

During an outstanding 26-year career as head coach at Chipley (Fla.) High School, coach McCullough posted an outstanding 599-229 record while leading his teams to 20 District championships and 15 Regional championships.

Coach McCullough was Florida Athletic Coaches Association (FACA) District coach of the year five times and Panhandle Athletic Conference coach of the year 10 times.

He was FACA Coach of the Year and Florida Dairy Farmers Coach of the Year in 2002. He was North Florida All-Star assistant coach in 2008 and North Florida All-Star head coach in 2003.