Bearcats come back from eight in fourth quarter to win Region 1-4A Championship

Published 10:04 pm Friday, February 16, 2024

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The Bainbridge Bearcats are the 2023-2024 Region 1-4A Champions. 

They came back from an 8-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Hardaway 50-47 in the title game. 

“It’s very emotional,” said Bearcats head coach Kelvin Cochran. “The boys, they fought like hell the whole game… I’m just so proud of the boys, man.”

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The Bearcats were down 44-47 with 3 minutes left in the game. The team shut the Hawks out, and senior guard AJ Grant shot and made two free throws in consecutive possessions to put Bainbridge up by one with 1:40 left. 

After some back-and-forth play, senior guard Zyrell Williams scored a breakaway layup to put the Bearcats up by three and secure the win. Williams was overcome with emotion during the championship trophy presentation after the game.

“It was tears of happiness,” Williams said. “Just to see my homeboys happy, my coach happy, it’s a blessing. And it’s my birthday it can’t get much better than that… I live for moments like these.”

Coach Cochran has been to multiple region championships in his time coaching the Bearcats and Ladycats beforehand. This title win is the first in his Bainbridge career.

“I’ve played for several region championships, this is my first win,” Cochran said. “I kind of felt like LeBron, getting to the championship game but can’t get over the hump.” 

The win nets the Bearcats a 1-seed in the GHSA State Playoffs and home-court advantage for the first two rounds. 

“It means a lot because we get to play the number 4 seed from the other region,” Cochran said in reference to their playoff ranking. “It’s always good to play at home.”

The top-seeded Bearcats will face at home in the first round of playoffs on either Tuesday, Feb. 20, or Wednesday, Feb. 21— date, time and opponent are still TBD.