BAINBRIDGE -- Coach Rickey McCullough's Region 1-AAAA champion Bainbridge High School Bearcats defeated the Ola High School Mustangs from McDonough, 77-69, on Friday night in the first round of the state basketball tournament game behind a game-high 26 point effort by Devon Baulkmon.
It was the 18th win in a row for the Bearcats, who now will host Evans on Tuesday.The game time for the quarterfinal matchup, however, is still to be determined.
"It was an exciting game," McCullough said. "We were missing a couple of guys due to injuries. DaVario Thomas broke his wrist in practice during the week, and Rohan Gaines rolled his ankle during the game. I thought freshman Dontavias Marshall, who finished with 9 points, and senior James Hudson, who finished with 10 points, really stepped up and made some shots."
Baulkmon gave the Bearcats an early 3-0 lead when he hit a 3-point jumper from the right side just 15 seconds into the game.
The Mustangs followed with seven points to go ahead 7-3. But Baulkmon cut it to 7-5 with a tip in at the 4:05 mark, and Justin Harris, who finished with 19 points, got the Bearcats back even 7-7 with a layup off the right glass at the 3:30 mark. They went on to lead 20-10 at the end of the first quarter.
The lead moved all the way out to 15 points at 35-20 when Baulkmon drove the right baseline and slammed home a dunk with 2:06 showing on the clock just before halftime. The Bearcats were up by 16, points 31-25, at halftime.
The Mustangs mounted a huge comeback in the second half, cutting the lead down to nine, at 55-46, when Tim Mason drove under the basket and laid one in off the left glass with just two seconds remaining. That's the way the third quarter ended.
The Mustangs pulled within two, at 69-67, when Thomas Werner hit a jumper from the left side at the 1:34 mark, but could get no closer.