Almost midway through the GISA Region 1AA schedule, the Briarwood Buccaneers are in a three-way tie for first while the Lady Bucs are firmly in second place in the region.
The teams will travel to Eatonton this Friday to take on the only Region 1AA foe they've yet to face, arch rival Gatewood Schools, always a region contender. The Briarwood squads will travel to Forsyth on Saturday, Jan. 21, for a repeat match with Monroe Academy.
The Bucs started off last week with a resounding 59-46 win over region powerhouse Brentwood School in Sandersville on Tuesday, January 10.
"It was a good quality win for Briarwood," said Coach Christian Tiller, adding that it was the first win over Brentwood for the Bucs "in a long time. We jumped out on them quick."
Junior Joseph Batrous was the only Buc in double figures, scoring 22 points.
After that win, the Bucs "didn't get off the bus" when they faced Piedmont School in Monticello and were defeated 56-44.
"We didn't play well offensively. We didn't play well defensively." However, "It wasn't as bad as the score indicates," Coach Tiller said. "They scored all of their points from the free throw line in the fourth quarter."
The Bucs got into foul trouble early and were forced to play Piedmont's game. With the score tied at 34-34 at the end of the third, the Bucs were forced to foul and then watch as Piedmont sank the free throws.
Batrous led with 14 points, followed by junior Seth Williford with 11 points.
After Friday night's experience, the Bucs came out "fired up and wide open" when they hosted Monroe Academy of Forsyth on Saturday.
With "just about everybody scoring," the Bucs had a 59-27 win over Monroe.
Junior Davis Griffin led the scoring with 16 points, followed by sophomore Dave Joesbury with 14 points and Batrous with 11 points.
"It's always good to get a win after a loss," Coach Tiller said. "It told the kids that one win is a good start to a winning streak."
The Bucs added the second win to their streak with a 75-31 win over Edmund Burke Academy last Monday afternoon at Briarwood.
"We probably played the best first half we've played all year," Coach Tiller said, adding that every Buc saw considerable playing time.
Griffin led with a career high 18 points, followed by Batrous with 17 points and Joesbury with 10 points.
Freshman Price Chalker hit five straight three-pointers in about a four-minute period in the fourth quarter to score 15 points for the Bucs.
With one loss each, the Bucs are currently in a three-way tie for first in the region with Piedmont Academy and Gatewood School.
Also 3-1 in play last week, the girls lost early in the week, 32-48 to Brentwood School in Sandersville, currently the number one team in girls Region 1AA play.
"We just didn't play very well," Coach Clayton Parrish said. "We didn't do a good job defensively of stopping their best player."
Senior Beth Gerlach led the Lady Bucs against Brentwood with 15 points.
With a game winning shot as time expired, senior Katie Reese led the Lady Bucs to a close 56-54 win over Piedmont Academy.
Reese hit a desperation three-pointer, almost from midcourt, at the end of the first half to cut Piedmont's lead to two points, 26-28 at the half, and then came back in the fourth to hit the game winning shot as time expired.
"I've never seen anyone hit one at halftime and one at the end of the game," Coach Parrish said.
"This was a real big win for us," he continued. "It was on the road. We had had a tough two days of practice, and it felt good to get the win."
Reese led the scoring with 17 points, followed by sophomore Cassie Pickrell with 11 points. Junior Olivia Lyons came off the bench to score 10 points for the Lady Bucs with six of those points coming consecutively from the free throw line.
The Lady Bucs employed the full court press to good advantage against Monroe Academy Saturday afternoon at Briarwood. The Lady Bucs took and made some good shots from turnovers created by the press.
Pickrell led the scoring against Monroe with 15 points, followed by Gerlach with 10 points.
The Lady Bucs finished last week's play with a tight 48-44 win over Edmund Burke.
"I was very proud of our girls," Coach Parrish said. "They played two games in three days that came down to the wire and won both of them. For a team that's not very experienced, they do a great job of keeping their composure in tight situations."
The younger, more inexperienced Lady Bucs played major roles in the win. Down one point with one-minute left on the clock, junior Courtney Price hit a three-pointer for a two-point lead. EBA scored two, and then sophomore Whitney Carani hit a three-pointer to up the Lady Bucs lead to four points. The two teams exchanged buckets before senior Katie Reese hit two free throws with seven seconds left on the clock to put the game away for the Lady Bucs.
Sophomore Pickrell led the scoring with 23 points, 17 of those in the first half, followed by Reese with 10 points and Gerlach with nine points.
The 4-1 Lady Bucs are currently in second place in the region standings behind undefeated (in region play) Brentwood School. Gatewood, who lost to Brentwood, also, is in third place, followed by Edmund Burke.
"It's a tight, tight region this year," Coach Parrish said. "We had to hit a shot at the buzzer to defeat sixth place Piedmont.
"We've put ourselves in a pretty good situation," he continued. "If we can steal a couple on the road and win all of our home games, we'll be in good shape when we go to the region tournament."
The Briarwood teams will face the only region team they've yet to play this Friday at Gatewood Schools in Eatonton. The "B" Lady Bucs will play at 3:45 p.m immediately followed by the "B" Bucs. The Lady Bucs will play at 6 p.m., followed by the Bucs at 7:30 p.m.
The teams will travel to Forsyth next Saturday, Jan. 21, for repeat matches with Monroe Academy. The "B" Bucs will play at 1 p.m., followed by the Lady Bucs at 2:30 p.m. and the Bucs at 4 p.m.
The Bucs will host Brentwood School on Tuesday, Jan. 24. The "B" Lady Bucs will play at 4:30 p.m., followed by the Lady Bucs at 6 p.m. and the Bucs at 7:30 p.m.