BAINBRIDGE -- They've won 19 in a row, but this is the one they will remember at Bainbridge, where the Bearcats came back to beat Evans, 68-59, Tuesday in the second round of the GHSA Class AAAA playoffs on a night when Devon Baulkmon simply refused to let the season end.
Bainbridge came back from a 37-30 halftime deficit, and was hanging on 52-49 at the end of three when Baulkmon just took over the game -- and the season -- by scoring 20 points in the fourth quarter alone to lift Bainbridge into the Elite 8 against Glenn Hills at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Fort Valley State.
The Bearcats, who have been ravaged with injuries, changed the game in the third quarter with a press -- sparked by the addition of Shawn Samuels off the bench -- and then Baulkmon did the rest.
"We were down 37-30 and we brought Shawn Samuels in and went to the press. We press a lot when he is in the game,'' Bainbridge coach Rickey McCullough said. "That kind of got us going, and then Baulkmon started hitting one unreal shot after another.''
Baulkmon, a junior who has led Bainbridge all season, finished with 33 points, including 26 in the second half to nail the double-double with 10 rebounds. The 33 points were not his career-high. That came against Leon of Tallahassee (Fla.) when Baulkmon scored 39. But nothing feels better than winning in the playoffs, and Baulkmon was never bigger.
Justin Harris scored 12 for the Bearcats and Rodney Glenn had a big night on the boards with eight rebounds.
Bainbridge (26-4) has won 19 in a row, and is still alive with only eight teams left in the state, despite losing guard DaVario Thomas (wrist) and having to play wait-and-see with guard Rohan Gaines, who rolled his ankle in the opening round win over Ola.
"Rohan played some, got into foul trouble and didn't play much in the first half,'' McCullough said. "But he hit a shot, and had a couple of tip-ins to spark us when we were coming back from 37-30.''
The turning point in the game came early in the third quarter when Bainbridge ripped off a 9-0 run to lead 39-37.
"Shawn Samuels is an undersized post, and when he comes into the game, we go to our press," McCullough said. "When he came in (Tuesday), we started getting turnovers and cutting down the lead."
The run began with Samuels hitting a layup off the right glass to cut the lead to 37-32 with 2:59 left in the third quarter. Justin Harris' layup off the right glass at the 2:40 mark to cut it to 37-34 then Baulkmon's three-point jumper from beyond the head of the key with 2:26 left tied it 37-37.
And Banibridge never trailed again.
Herald staff writer Mike Phillips contributed to this report