After a thrilling overtime girl’s loss, the John Milledge Academy varsity boys’ basketball team faced Bulloch for the region tournament title also. Friday ended poorly for the male side as well, losing to the Gators 34-28.
This was the first region final for JMA since 1991. They came up a few buckets short.
Head coach Thomas Craig told his team to not hold their head. They made an impressive region run when some though they couldn’t.
“We played hard,” Craig said. “I can’t fault the kids.”
Junior Brandon Panfil made two opening 3-point shots.Trojans led 11-4 at 3:35 mark of first.
JMA brought the early energy straight to Bulloch. The Gators hung in draining a trey as the first quarter expired to go into the second down 15-11.
Senior Brantley Attaway made a bomb of his own into the middle of the second quarter. This was a slugfest from the tip. JMA kept banging the boards the first half.
The home squad had numerous second chance possessions but botched most.
JMA’s defense was top notch the first half. Bulloch got no free looks.
The Trojan lead was eight points at half.
Out of the locker room JMA looked out of sorts. Bulloch rattled them with high energy and effort.
An Attaway trey silenced the Gator crowd momentarily. The Trojan boys kept a narrow 24-21 led at the 2:45 mark in the third.
JMA composed itself nicely after slowing the negative slide.
Offense remained scarce. Bulloch forced senior point guard David Youngblood to a late third quarter turnover.
Each possession was vital as the Gators did a good defensive job on Attaway.
Bulloch tied the game at 26 all on a quarter finishing lay in.
The Gators used sloppy turnovers to their advantage taking the lead by two. John Milledge faced a turning point when the shooting touch went cold.
A four-point Bulloch lead looked like it could get out of hand. The Trojan boys couldn’t make anything fall.
“Seven points in the second half won’t win the game,” Craig said.
Attaway ended the scoring drought with a steal and easy make with one minute remaining. JMA needed stops and four more points to tie.
Unfortunately, Attaway tossed away an important possession soon after.
Bulloch dribbled the seconds out, giving them a region sweep.
Attaway scored 14 points, while Panfil added 10 Friday.
A good tournament run placed the JMA boys in state. They have a No. 2 seed and will likely play Westfield in the state round this Thursday.
Craig said he wouldn’t trade these 13 guys for anything despite some close losses this season.
“No body gave us a chance. We believed in ourselves,” Craig said. “We fell short a couple of games, but the guys kept fighting.”