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Bainbridge beats R-C girls in coaches' battle of ex-college teammates; Bearcats hand Red Devils first loss of year

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

BAINBRIDGE -- She had that look on her face, the one that said, "We've got to play better," but Randolph-Clay coach Jennifer Acree had no hard feelings.

"She's still my girl,'' said Acree, who is now 0-2 against her close friend and former Alabama A&M college teammate in 1996, Bainbridge coach Latreisha Moon. "We'll talk later about the game. She'll tell me the truth about my team, and I'll tell her the truth about hers. That's the way it is with friends.''

It's Moon 2, Acree 0, after Bainbridge's 60-39 win Friday night, a one-sided romp that was over early as Bainbridge built a 36-19 halftime lead and led, 50-26, after three quarters.

"I hate to use the word rebuilding, but we are,'' said Acree, who lost five starters, including Herald co-Player of the Year Destiny Mitchell, who scored 53 points in last year's 77-69 loss to Bainbridge. "We're young, and these young players have to work on their attitude.''

You just don't replace Mitchell, who is now at East Tennessee State, and it's even a longer road back when you start three sophomores. One of them, Andrianna Blackman, led the Lady Red Devils with 19 points, but it wasn't enough to overcome 36 turnovers.

"It was 36, but it felt like 50,'' Acree said. "It's always good to play against your friend, but I wish a better team had showed up.''

Herald No. 3 Bainbridge (3-2) played its best game of the early season, in part because of the friendship between the two coaches.

"Coach told us that's her friend and we needed to beat them, and that gave me a little extra oomph, because the Randolph-Clay coach really wanted to beat (my coach),'' said Bria Harris, who led everyone with 25 points and eight rebounds. "I could see it in her eyes. I wanted to blow them out.''

They did.

Harris scored all 25 of her points in just three quarters and April Thomas, a quick-silver point guard, also had a big night, running the floor and tossing in 17 points, including three 3-pointers.

"When you play your friend you always want to beat them, but I didn't want to blow them out,'' Moon said. "But our goal is to score 60 points every night, and we did get the 60. It was a good game for us to build on and go from here. I was real proud of my girls. They all gave a real good effort.''

Acree said before the game that she could learn a lot about her young team from this game, and she did.

"We have some work to do,'' she said. "But we will win the region.''

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BAINBRIDGE BOYS 74, RANDOLPH-CLAY 67:

Randolph-Clay kept running at Bainbridge, using waves of players as new head coach Oglesby Jackson substituted in shifts. He threw everything he had at Bainbridge.

And Bainbridge threw Devon Baulkmon right back.

Baulkmon finished the night with 28 points, five rebounds and a knee that was still bleeding from a hard fall he took in the second quarter, and Bainbridge held off R-C, which was dealt its first loss of the year.

"I tell you, that's a real good basketball team,'' Bainbridge coach Rickey McCullough said. "They really played well, and they killed us on the boards.''

Randolph-Clay, which has been blowing teams off the court to run out to a 3-0 start, scored 200 points in its last two games and looked ready to beat Herald No. 3 Bainbridge early. The Red Devils jumped out to a 17-11 first-quarter lead, and were still up 35-33 at halftime, despite a 12-point second quarter from Baulkmon, who brought the Bearcats back into the game.

R-C still led, 45-43, when Tim Stringer had a putback with three minutes left in the third quarter, but Bainbridge had a 10-0 run and never looked back. Baulkmon had 21 points after three quarters.

The rest of the Bearcats took over in the fourth as Shawn Samuels scored seven of his 10 points in the fourth and Rodney Glenn finished strong with 10 points.

"We didn't play defense,'' said Randolph-Clay coach Oglesby Jackson, who has seven seniors on a team that looks good enough to make a run in the playoffs this season. "We had them until we stopped playing defense. Maybe we were looking forward to playing in Dawson (against region rival Terrell County tonight).''

Jackson's team runs the floor and hits the glass together. Nine different players scored points, including Malcolm Jones, who led the way with 18, Cardayle Curry, who dropped in 12, and Stringer who scored 13 points and had 10 rebounds.

Bainbridge is now 1-1, but the Bearcats, who have made two consecutive trips to the Final Four, lost their first game without Baulkmon, who missed the game against Malone (Fla.). He opened his season like he never left it on Friday.

"I've got to get better. We've got to get better,'' Baulkmon said. "I'm glad we won, but I didn't feel like I played well. I didn't do the little things.''

He did more than enough, and it's a long season.

"This team doesn't know it's identity yet,'' McCullough said. "It's still looking for it's niche. We did some good things. It's early. And we played a real good team (Friday night).''