The Briarwood Academy Runnin' Bucs and Lady Bucs both came on strong in the final games of the 2006 basketball season, earning themselves a second place finish in regular season GISA Region 1AA competition and the number two seed in the region tournament, which is being held this week at Brentwood School in Sandersville. Tournament play began Tuesday, Feb. 6, and will conclude with the finals on Friday, Feb. 10.
As the number two seed in the region, the Lady Bucs were scheduled to face seventh place Monroe Academy at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in the first round of girls' play. The number two seeded Bucs were scheduled to face seventh place Curtis Baptist School at 6 p.m. on Wednesday in the first round of boys' play.
A first round win is a "must" for the teams to advance further in the tournament and then on to the first and second rounds of AA state at Middle Georgia College in Cochran. The girls' games will be held on Wednesday (Feb. 15) and Friday (Feb. 17) while the boys will play on Thursday (Feb. 16) and Saturday (Feb. 18).
The Lady Bucs, who finished the season 9-3 in region play and 13-8 overall, won their final two games of the season over the weekend, but lost last week's Tuesday (Jan. 31) game by only two points, 43-45, to Gatewood School.
The Bucs, who finished the season 9-3 in region play and 13-8 overall, finished the season playing their best ball of the year and winning all three games last week.
"We really came together, and it's a good time for that to happen," Coach Christian Tiller said of the Bucs. "My motto right now is, and I'm going to borrow a quote from Lou Holtz, ‚ÄòWe're not as good as we seem; we're not as bad as we seem; somewhere in the middle reality lies.'"
The Bucs had possibly their biggest win of the season Friday night, shocking Region 1AA's top team, Piedmont Academy of Monroe, with a 56-33 runaway win.
"We played as well as we've played all year," Coach Tiller said, "and most of that was due to the crowd support. We were just all fired up and played out of our heads."
The Bucs were pumped up by two days of basketball spirit activities in school and a large and vocal crowd supporting the teams at the Friday game.
Junior Joseph Batrous scored 28 points, followed by junior Davis Griffin and sophomore Dave Joesbury with 11 points each.
The Lady Bucs played just as well in their 66-48 win over Piedmont.
"It was probably one of the best games we've played," Coach Clayton Parrish said. "We broke their (full court) press, and we did a good job of passing the ball and converting on the lay-ups."
Sophomore post Cassie Pickrell, who converted most of those lay-ups, scored a career high 29 points. She was followed by senior Katie Reese with 14 points and senior Beth Gerlach with 10 points.
The teams took "bittersweet" wins in the final regular season games over the Edmund Burke Academy teams, who had just learned of the death of a player on a four-wheeler shortly before the games were scheduled to begin last Saturday in Waynesboro.
The Lady Bucs hit their high percentage shots in the 63-50 win over EBA.
Again, "we handled their pressure real well and got a lot of lay-ups with their press break," Coach Parrish said.
The Lady Bucs also hit 19 of 26 from the free throw line, a 73 percent average.
Pickrell led the scoring with 19 points, followed by Gerlach with 16 points and Reese with 13 points.
The Lady Bucs needed the wins over both Piedmont and EBA to secure the second place finish in the region.
The Bucs played well in a 56-23 win over EBA.
Batrous led with 21 points, followed by senior Blake Stitcher and Joesbury with 10 points each.
The Lady Bucs, who defeated Gatewood in their first meeting of the season, had the ball with 0:13 left on the clock, but couldn't convert and fell by two, 43-45, to Gatewood early last week.
At one point in the fourth quarter, the Lady Gators actually had an eight-point lead over the Lady Bucs before the Lady Bucs battled back for a chance to win.
Pickrell led the scoring with 18 points.
"If things (teams win according to their rankings in the region) hold true, we should meet Gatewood in the semi-finals (of this week's region 1AA tournament)," Coach Parrish said.
The Bucs took a 45-42 win over the Gators in a low scoring, defense-oriented game.
"We did a real good job of frustrating their post players just by playing good defense," Coach Tiller said.
Despite Brentwood's number one finish in the boys' play in the region, Coach Tiller still feels that "Gatewood is the team to beat."
Batrous and Joesbury scored 15 points each in the win over Gatewood.