Bainbridge boys hang tough against state No. 2 Tift County in home loss; Lady Bearcats also fall, remain winless

Kansas signee Brannen Greene scored 36 points Friday night to lead Tift County past Bainbridge, 78-50.

Kansas signee Brannen Greene scored 36 points Friday night to lead Tift County past Bainbridge, 78-50.

BAINBRIDGE — The first five minutes of the third quarter were a nightmare for Bainbridge on Friday.

The Bearcats can blame Brannen Greene for the midnight shivers.

Greene, the 25th-ranked player in the nation by Rivals.com, scored 36 points to lead the Blue Devils to a 78-50 win over Bainbridge in non-region play.

Greene hit 5-of-8 from 3-point land and grabbed five rebounds to lead Tift (2-0) on a second-half surge after Bainbridge played the No. 2-ranked team in the state tough in the first half.

The Bearcats (1-1) trailed just 41-35 at the break until Tift County scored the first 17 points of the third quarter, with Greene scoring 11 during the run spanning 3:30.

When Deion Thomas hit two free throws for the Bearcats at the 2:49 mark of the third, Tift held a 58-37 lead.

“It just got away from us,” Bainbridge head coach Rickey McCullough said. “They’re so talented. You can just pick your poison. It might be the best team I’ve played since I’ve been here.”

And that’s saying something for McCullough, who has gone to the GHSA Class AAAA Final Four twice.

Greene, who has already signed with the University of Kansas, did whatever he wanted on the court Friday.

At one point, he even told a Becarcats defender he couldn’t guard him — and then drove past him for the bucket and foul. He scored 30 with 10 boards in the season opener against Westover, a 22-point win for the Blue Devils.

Bainbridge never led again after taking a 3-2 lead early, but it gave Tift trouble in the first half, cutting an early lead to 25-22 on Justin Baker’s free throws with 7:18 left in the second.

“They push you out of your offense, the way they play,” McCullough said of Tift’s defense. “You don’t ever get set because they’ve got those athletes.”

Tift, which also got 19 points from Tadric Jackson, flew out to a 34-22 lead with a 9-0 run, but the Bearcats clawed back behind Baker, freshman Tyree Crump and senior Dantavius Marshall.

“It was tough,” Marshall said of playing against the Class AAAAAA Blue Devils. “I ain’t going to lie. I knew it was going to be a tough game from the get-go.”

Marshall and Baker led Bainbridge with 11 points each, while Crump finished with nine.

“A game like that will get us ready for the playoffs,” Marshall said.

TIFT COUNTY GIRLS 53, BAINBRIDGE 34: Tift pulled away in the second half thanks to a game-high 18 points from Alexis Johnson, while Bainbridge was led by Patra Parris’ 15 points and seven rebounds. Beonka Madge scored eight in the loss for the Lady Bearcats.

After a horrid first quarter, the Lady Bearcats got as close as 19-17 on Longeisha Emanuel’s lay-in in the third quarter, but Tift County ran out to a 32-25 lead into the fourth quarter.

“Once we settled down and did what we were coached to do (we came back),” Lady Bearcats head coach Kelvin Cochran said. “We had our opportunities. We missed a ton of shots.”

Tift jumped out to a 13-0 lead before Bainbridge scored its first points with 7:06 left in the second quarter on Parris’ short jumper.

“The two games we’ve played, we’ve turned the ball over at a record clip,” said Cochran, whose team has one senior and four juniors.

The Lady Bearcats (0-2) rebounded in the second quarter, outscoring Tift, 11-4, thanks to Parris’ six points before half.

The Lady Blue Devils (1-1) play host to Buford High today, while Bainbridge goes to Thomasville High.