BAINBRIDGE -- No matter how you look at it, Bainbridge's Bearcats have lost two games this season, and Herald Super 6er Devon Baulkmon missed one of them, and played just a little more than one half in the other.
That's about all Baulkmon played Tuesday night, and once the Bearcats got behind then-No. 2 state-ranked Thomasville, they just never could catch up, falling, 68-59, at home to the same team they beat Saturday night on the road.
Baulkmon, who scored 32 points in a 75-74 win against Thomasville on Saturday night, picked up two quick fouls Tuesday, and played only 2 minutes and 18 seconds in the first half. Bainbridge stayed close without its star, but Thomasville, which fell to No. 3 in the latest Class AA state poll, closed out the quarter with a six-point run that capped a 14-5 stretch to take a 27-19 halftime lead -- and it never trailed again.
"(Baulkmon) got in foul trouble early and that was good for us and bad for them,'' Thomasville coach Ben Tillman said.
Tillman then added: "He's their guy. He's a tremendous talent. He shot the lights out against us the other night. Any time you lose a player like him it hurts.''
Even when Baulkmon, who made seven 3s in Saturday's win, returned, the Bearcats had trouble with Thomasville's towering front, and when Bainbridge wasn't getting frustrated inside on defense, the Bearcats were having their own problems out on the perimeter.
"We just didn't shoot the ball well,'' Bainbridge coach Rickey McCullough said. "We went 3-of-25 on 3-pointers. We weren't bad inside, but we missed a lot of shots. As good as we were offensively on Saturday, we were that bad (Tuesday)."
Baulkmon finished with 15 points, and Rodney Glenn, who scored the first eight points for Bainbridge in the third quarter, led the Bearcats with 23 points. Bainbridge closed to five and four points and trailed by only five (62-57) when Baulkmon made a steal and a drive with 1:50 left.
Thomasville's two big men inside -- Willie Clayton and Robert Carter -- scored the final six points for the Bulldogs and guard Trey Gosier, who led Thomasville with 20 points each, made two steals and a pair of free throws in the final minutes as the Bulldogs (4-1) put this one away.
"It was a good night for our bigs,'' said Tillman of Clayton and Carter. "We had balanced scoring and we have been looking for that.''
Clayton scored 17 and Carter scored 14 and they each blocked three shots, as did Tyrone Mitchell.
Bainbridge did have some good news. Guard Rohan Gaines, who just committed to the University of Arkansas on a football scholarship Monday, played in his first basketball game of the season.
"It felt real good to be out there,'' said Gaines, a defensive back who suffered two torn blood vessels in a fluke football injury when he jumped up for an interception and an opponents' helmet hit him in the stomach. "I'm fine now. It just took a while before I could play basketball again.''
Gaines started last year, and will no doubt be a big addition to
Bainbridge, which is ranked No. 2 in The Herald's Top 5 Poll.
"That's a real good team,'' Tillman said. "This is a rivalry but we haven't played them in a home-and-home situation in a while, so I was real excited about getting to come to this fine facility and play them. Games like this help. We have a real good no region schedule. We play Westover and we played Whitfield and Bainbridge. It helps you for later on (in the postseason).''
McCullough, whose team is in Class AAAA compared to Class AAA for Thomasville, felt the same.
"I think these are two teams with a chance to go to the playoffs,'' said McCullough, whose team has been to the Class AAAA Final Four the last two years, while Thomasville played for the Class AA state title last season. "We just couldn't get going. Devon got into foul trouble early and we got behind. I think if we cold have held them to (four points behind at halftime instead of eight) we might have gotten back in there.''
But Thomasville is the kind of team that's hard to catch.
"They have real good guard play and they have height,'' McCullough said. "They get so many putbacks, and they hit their free throws. That's a good team. We beat them Saturday, and they came over here ready to play.
"Rodney had a good game and it was nice to have Rohan back in there. I think we'll be OK. It's early."
BAINBRIDGE GIRLS 69, THOMASVILLE 59:
Carmonique Dawson was killing Bainbridge, dropping in one long 3-pointer after another, and at times Thomasville looked unbeatable. After all, the Lady Bulldogs had beaten Bainbridge on Saturday and had lost just one game all season -- and that was to The Herald's No. 1 Westover Lady Patriots.
April Thomas would have none of it.
Thomas, a lightning-bolt mini-guard, simply took over a tight game Tuesday, tossing the Lady Bearcats on her diminutive shoulders to lead Bainbridge (5-3) to the 10-point victory.
It happened late in the third quarter when Thomas scored 10 points in a row, bagging back-to-back 3s to ignite Bainbridge, which turned a 49-44 deficit into a 56-51 lead as the fourth quarter began.
Briana Wade, who finished with eight points and a half dozen steals, hit a drive to close to 49-46, then Thomas took over, hitting a pair of 3s and a pair of free throws before driving from halfcourt to hit a drive to close out the quarter with a personal 10-point run.
"As good as she was offensively, she was even better on defense,'' said Bainbridge coach Latriesha Moon of Thomas. "Her defense hasn't been as good as it can be, but she played good defense (Tuesday). And when she hit those back-to-back 3s that was big. That gave us momentum, and it gave her momentum, too.''
Thomas finished with 21 points, hitting 4-of-5 from 3.
"They're our biggest rival and they beat us Saturday night, so I really wanted to win this game,'' Thomas said.
Herald Super 6er Bria Harris didn't shoot any 3s but Bainbridge's inside force had another big game, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds.
"Everybody played well,'' Harris said. "Everybody stepped up. We are really playing as a team.''
It shows, especially on defense. Moon was tired of watching Thomasville bury 3-pointers, especially Dawson, who made four 3s and finished with 24 points, and changed from a zone to a man-to-man defense in the third quarter, and the game changed immediately.
"I think if we would have stayed in a zone we would have lost the game,'' Moon said. "Takea Crawford did a great job on defense,, and everyone played better defense. This was a good win for us.''