BAINBRIDGE -- Maybe these two need a rubber game?
That’s the feeling after Bainbridge held on to beat Lee County, 63-58, in overtime Tuesday in a huge Region 1-AAAAA game.
Just don’t tell Bainbridge coach Rickey McCullough he might have to face the Trojans again.
“I hope we stay away from them. They match up with us real well,’’ said McCullough, whose team is No. 5 in The Herald Fab 5 Poll and in first place in Region 1-AAAAA with a 6-1 record, but his kids have split with Lee County, which beat Bainbridge in Leesburg 11 days ago. “We’ve had two real good games against them. They play hard. Coach (Kirven) Davis has done a great job with them.’’
Davis has helped turn the program around at Lee County, where the Trojans won just four games last year. But here they are, knocking off powerhouse Bainbridge and then taking the Bearcats to overtime on the road.
“To come in this place and (play them that close) is a major step in the right direction,’’ said Davis, who took over the program this year. “The whole crew gave a great effort. They’re all in.’’
The two teams could see each other again in the region tournament, which will be played in Bainbridge in a couple of weeks. The top two teams get a first-round bye, and that’s where Bainbridge sits right now with three games left in the regular season.
Lee County might have pulled it out Tuesday, but Bainbridge (15-4, 6-1) got big shots from Dontavious Marshall and freshman Tyree Crump and then won the game with defense and free throws in OT.
Bainbridge didn’t allow a basket in overtime and Jaysyn Brown, who led Lee with 25 points, made just three of six free throws in OT, opening the door for the Bearcats. Bainbridge won it at the line, making 9 of 11 free throws in the fourth quarter and in OT to put the game away.
“We made our free throws and played good defense,’’ said McCullough, whose team made 13 of 17 free throws for the night and went 4-for-5 in OT.
Lee had a chance to win it in regulation after Bainbridge turned the ball over when it couldn’t get the ball inbounds in time with 4 seconds left, but the Trojans missed a shot at the buzzer and the two teams went to OT at 55-55.
Bainbridge’s Steven Johnson made an and-one play with 2:11 left in OT to lift the Bearcats to a 58-56 lead, and they never trailed again. Marshall hit a big drive with 1:15 left before Brown made one of two free throws with 1:01 left to close to 60-58. Johnson hit a free throw with 30 seconds left and Marshall put it away with two free throws with 11 seconds on the clock to make the final 63-58.
“We wanted to beat them real bad because they were bragging after they beat us,” said Marshall, who finished with 20 points. “They’re a good team. They play hard. They compete. They weren’t like this last year. That’s the best Lee County team I have seen.’’
Crump hit two big 3s in a fourth quarter and finished with 16 points, and Lee County’s Aaron May scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth, including a putback that gave Lee a 55-54 lead with 55 seconds left and a free throw that knotted the score at 55-55 with 47 seconds left.
Lee County (10-12, 3-4 in Region 1-AAAAA) built a seven-point lead in the second quarter thanks to Brown, who poured in 10 points in the second quarter and went to halftime with 14. But the Trojans couldn’t hang on as Bainbridge put together an 8-0 run to end the half with a 28-27 lead.
“We’re just two close teams,’’ McCullough said. “They beat us by one point at their place. They jumped out early, and we had to press and fight back. And it was another real close game (Tuesday night). Tyree made some clutch 3s in the fourth quarter, and we played good defense (in the OT). Brown had a good game for them, and we put Justin Baker on him in overtime, and he did a good job of holding him down.
“It’s just two good teams going after each other when we play them.’’
BAINBRIDGE GIRLS 46, LEE COUNTY 45: It was all clutch all the time for Bainbridge’s Tameria Levens, who took over in the final minute of the game to lift Bainbridge to a narrow win against Lee County on Tuesday night.
Levens hit a big 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to break a 40-40 tie and then put the game away with three free throws in the final 12 seconds to give the Lady Bearcats a 46-42 lead, including a free throw with five seconds left. Lee County’s Katherine McConnell hit a 3 at the buzzer to make it a one-point final.
Levens finished with 19 points and Patra Parris scored 11 for Bainbridge. Lee County, which beat Bainbridge in Leesburg two weeks ago, was led by Briana Scott (13 points) and McConnell (11).
Bainbridge is now 5-14 and 2-5 in Region 1-AAAA and plays Northside Columbus at home on Friday. Lee County, which is 1-4 in the region, travels to Harris County on Friday.