Bearcat Hoops shift focus to State Playoffs after Region Tournament

Published 9:25 am Wednesday, February 22, 2023

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The Bainbridge High School boys basketball suffered their second loss of the season on Friday night as they fell to Westover 54-39 in the Region Championship game. Despite falling in the final game, the Bearcats still had a strong showing in the Region tournament as they defeated Cairo High School to earn their 25 win of the season and earn a spot in the Region Championship game. Although the Bearcats came up short, their focus now shifts to the 2023 Georgia Boys State Basketball Tournament as they will battle for their shot at a State Championship.

In the Bearcats win against Cairo to advance to the Region finals, the Bearcats played the style they have played all season that started with an aggressive defense. Holding Cairo to just 40 points, Vontrelle Ervin, KJ Cochran, Ked Bryant, Dontavious Broadnax and Keith Gaines all combined for 14 steals on the syrupmakers. On the offensive end, KJ Cochran led the Bearcats in scoring with 12 points while also crashing the glass for seven rebounds.

In the loss to Westover in the Region championship, the Bearcats just couldn’t accumulate enough sustainable runs to put the Patriots away. The Patriots played one of their best games all season as their defense held the Bearcats to just 39 points. Gabriel Smart led the Bearcats with nine points, followed by Ked Bryant and Vontrelle Ervin with eight points each and Dontavious Broadnax with seven points.

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For the group of seniors, winning a region championship was an important goal they set before the season, especially after coming so close in 2022. Despite the loss on Friday, the Bearcats have shifted their focus to the upcoming state tournament and are giving their all at making a run for a state title.

“This core group has five seniors, a few juniors, and just have been with each other for a long time,” said Cochran before the Region Tournament. “They’re friends and they play for each other. Their willingness to make sacrifices for each other, they push each other and they just have fun. There’s good vibes all around this team.”

If there is one thing to be known about this year’s Bearcats team, is that they are a motivated group who values winning first. Coach Cochran has consistently been impressed with the self-motivation within his players and attributes that to the relationships they have developed off the court throughout their lives.

“I think the guys have done a great job of keeping themselves motivated,” said Cochran in January. “They came into the season disappointed in the way last season ended and motivated to get to work. We got a good group of guys who have been playing with each other for a while and they want to win a region championship, they want to go far in the state playoffs and it really motivates them. They just want to win. I don’t have to do much to motivate them because they know what the goal is.”

The Bearcats first matchup in the 2023 Georgia  Boys State Basketball Tournament will come on Tuesday night against the Westside High School Seminoles from Macon. The Seminoles bring a 20-7 record into Tuesday night’s matchup.

The Seminoles are an extremely talented team offensively, as they average 67.8 points per game which is 15 more than the Bearcats average. However, defensively is where the Bearcats have the advantage and where they have found success all season as they have allowed 398 less total points during the season.

Someone the Bearcats must keep their eyes on and neutralize during Tuesday’s matchup is senior Daveon Henderson who leads the Seminoles, averaging 20.2 points per game this season.

The Bearcats will host the Seminoles at Bainbridge High School on Tuesday night as they will play the winner of New Hampstead and Fayette County if they advance.