Bearcats win, advance to State

Published 2:58 pm Friday, February 18, 2011

Coach Rickey McCullough’s Bainbridge High School Bearcats nailed down a berth in the state Class AAAA basketball tournament here Wednesday with a 66-43 victory over the Houston County High School Bears.

The win, which came in the opening round of the Region 1AAAA Tournament at the Bainbridge High School Gymnasium, moved the Bearcats record to 24-2 and featured a game-high 23-point performance by Devon Baulkman and a 14-point effort by Rodney Glenn.

The Bearcats returned to tournament action Friday, taking on the Northside Warner Robins High School Eagles, who defeated the Lee County High School Trojans 76-46 on Wednesday.

In Wednesday’s other two first-round tournament games, the Thomas County Central High School Yellow Jackets defeated the Northside of Columbus High School Patriots 73-65 and the Hardaway of Columbus High School Golden Hawks defeated the Warner Robins High School Demons 83-75.

Friday’s other game, in addition to the Bearcats matchup with Northside Warner Robins, featured Thomas County Central against Hardaway.

The Bearcats, Northside of Warner Robins, Thomas County Central and Hardaway of Columbus have all secured spots in the state Class AAAA tournament.

Today’s games will determine the top four state tournament seeds. The game for third and fourth place will be at 5:30 p.m. and the championship game will be at 8:30 p.m.

First- and second-round state tournament games will be hosted by the first- and second-place Region 1AAAA teams.

Xzavier Gilmore gave the Bears a quick 2-0 lead when he drove into the lane and hit a shot with just 12 seconds gone on the first-quarter clock, but the Bearcats quickly countered with 11 unanswered points to take an 11-2 lead.

First, Jam Venisee-Cosby tied it 2-2 with a layup off the right glass at the 6:58 mark, then Glenn hit a layup off the right glass at the 6:33 mark to put the Bearcats ahead to stay 3-2.

A three-point jumper by Rohan Gaines at the 5:42 mark made it 6-2. The final five points of the Bearcats 11-0 scoring run came on a layup off the right glass by Ronald Crawford at the 5:58 mark and a three-point jumper from the left side by Baulkman at the 4:25 mark. The Bearcats led by eight, 22-14, at the end of the first quarter.

A rebound and put back by Baulkman gave the Bearcats a 12-point, 38-26 lead, at halftime.

“This was a big win for us,” coach McCullough said after the game.

“A victory on Friday would allow us to host one state tournament game and a victory on Saturday would allow us to host two state tournament games,” McCullough said. “We started slow tonight, but the defense got better as the game went along. Now that the tournament season is here, we need to get better every game, and I am confident that we will.”