Bearcats win one and lose one in last tune-ups before region play starts

Published 5:38 pm Tuesday, January 3, 2017

By Brandon O’Connor


The Bainbridge Bearcat boys’ basketball team split its last two games of the McDonalds Christmas Tournament in Tifton on Dec. 23 and 24. The Bearcats (3-9) defeated Valdosta 62-58 in double overtime and fell to Morgan County 70-63.

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Bainbridge took an early 13-6 lead against Valdosta before the Wildcats came back in the second quarter outscoring Bainbridge 18-8 in the period for a 24-21 advantage at halftime.

The two teams traded baskets in the third quarter, but Bainbridge was able to fight back into the game late into the fourth to force overtime. Both teams scored 12 points in the first overtime, but it was Bainbridge who came away with the win after outscoring Valdosta 9-4 in the second overtime.

Bainbridge head coach Terry Smith said that he called a timeout with just over 7-seconds remaining and told his team that this was a chance for them to grow and finish a close game.

“I asked the guys what play do you feel really confortable running,” Smith said. “It was a consensus where everybody said coach lets run this play; we have confidence that we can finish the game with this.”

The team’s last two points in the game from Milton Gayle at the free throw line. He finished the game with a team high 16 points. He overcame a 1-11 performance from the field by attacking the basket and making 13-of-18 free throws.

“As a point guard that is huge,” Smith said of Gayle staying aggressive. “I like my point guard to be the floor general and get everyone involved. He is beginning to buy into that. A lot of stuff we run on offense it includes where out point guard is attacking the basket and he did a good job of that.”

The Bearcats had a tough task the next day when they had to bounce back from a double overtime game and take a road trip to Tifton for the third straight day to face Morgan County.

“I knew our legs were going to be a little tired and we struggled,” Smith said. “We just didn’t start the game off right. At the end we found a way to keep that game close.”

The teams were tied at the end of the first quarter, but the Bulldogs had a seven-point advantage at halftime. They then extended their lead to nine at the end of the third. Bainbridge cut into the lead in the fourth quarter and got within three before Morgan County pulled away for the 70-63 victory.

Jeremiah Davis was the leading scorer for Bainbridge in the game with 15-points, all of which came from behind the 3-point line.

Smith said that overall he was happy with his team’s performance in the tournament even though they are still working on fine tuning things before region play starts.

“Offensively we are starting to trust the system,” Smith said. “The break came at a bad time because we’re really executing on offense and that really helped us during that Christmas tournament.”

“The biggest thing that we have to improve on is our half court man-to-man defense. The last two weeks that is what we really worked on.”

Bainbridge opens region play on Friday, Jan. 6, at Veterans.

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