EATONTON — Briarwood Academy’s Buccaneers fell to Gatewood Academy’s Gators on Friday.
The Lady Gators prevailed 44-14, and the Gators boys won 58-46.
Briarwood girls coach Clayton Parrish and boys coach Bo Fleming both said a flu outbreak that is sweeping the school cut into their ranks.
Still, Briarwood faced a larger school. Gatewood has a high school enrollment of about 150, and Briarwood’s stands at about 91.
Both Gatewood teams made a relentless press against their guests. Both teams at times held comfortable leads, although Briarwood’s boys closed the gap to just 6 points twice late in the game.
The loss opened the region season for Briarwood. The Lady Bucs now stand at 6-5 overall, the boys at 7-4.
The Lady Bucs fell behind 7-0 at the first buzzer and saw the margin widen to 20-9 at the half. The margin widened to 32-12 at the end of three.
“We did what we had to do defensively,” coach Parrish said.
Offensively, catch-up shots missed their marks, and Gatewood rebounds led to fast breaks and bigger margins.
Frequent high scorer Rachel Coxwell again was high with 8 points. Junior Marci Rivers and sophomores Copeland Price and Tiffany Pate each had two points. Gatewood’s Khady Dieng and Macy Malcolm each had 8 points.
In the boys’ game, the score remained tight deep into the first quarter, before the Gators broke away for a 17-9 lead at the buzzer. The Gators widened the margin to 31-20 at the half and to 41-20 after three.
Briarwood’s Tyler Daniel made contact on the opening tip, but a Gatewood player grabbed the ball. Gatewood’s Joe Welsh connected for the first score.
Briarwood threw the ball out of bounds and Gatewood began its rush, only to have Briarwood’s Ryan Pritchett steal the ball. Steven Parris hit a three and the Bucs led 3-2 at the 6:25 mark. The Gators owned the boards but couldn’t find the basket on their next possession, missing four shots.
Daniel drained a 2-pointer at 5:09 to give the Bucs their biggest lead of the game, 5-2. Then Gatewood rebounded with a pair of deuces. Between 2:47 and 1:35, the Gators outscored Briarwood 9-2, to take a 15-7 lead.
Both teams made daring passes and both teams suffered turnovers, with Briarwood getting the worst of the bargain.
In the third quarter, Steven Parris twice notched 2-pointers to close the margin to 6. But an 8-point Gatewood run that extended into the final quarter removed any doubt about the game’s outcome.
Heroics continued on both teams with steals, fast breaks and sharp passes, but Briarwood was unable to make up the deficit.
The Bucs hope to repay the favor in February, when the Gators visit Briarwood.
“We have to box them out,” said coach Fleming, adding that the Gators were getting as many as seven shots on a possession. “The difference in the game was the offensive rebounds,” he said.
Josh Adams led Briarwood scoring with 14 points. Spencer Hadden added 12 points, Daniel and Pritchett each scored 7, and Steven Parris scored 6.
Gatewood’s Drake Thomas led all scorers with 16 points. Welch had 14 points. Six others were in single digits.
Briarwood is on break until Jan. 2. On Tuesday, Jan. 3, all four basketball teams travel to Piedmont in Monticello. The Lady Bucs eighth-grade team has the first game at 3:30, followed by the Runnin’ Bucs eighth-grade team, the Lady Bucs and the Runnin’ Bucs. On Friday, Jan. 6, Briarwood hosts Central Fellowship Christian Academy of Macon, beginning at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday, Jan. 7, the Bucs take on Covenant in Macon, beginning at 1 p.m.