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BCA advances to state tournament

POSTED: February 22, 2014 12:00 p.m.
Adam Wynn/Barrow County News

BCA's Jacob Walls takes the game-winning free throw against Nathanael Greene during their first meeting this season while teammate Kevin Green looks on.

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The Bethlehem Christian Academy Knights split a pair of GISA Region 1-A tournament games this past week on their way to capturing the second-seed in the upcoming state tournament.

Reminiscent of their first game with the Nathanael Greene Patriots, BCA needed some late heroics from Jacob Walls in order to earn the right to play host and defending state champion Curtis Baptist for the region championship.

The Knights pulled out a 47-45 win over Nat Greene in Augusta Thursday night and avoided another overtime contest with some timely shooting.

"For some reason…we just seem to always want to battle with them," Bethlehem Christian Academy men’s varsity basketball coach Mark Barth said.

Trailing in the final minute of the game, BCA hit the front end of a one-and-one to tie the game and force some real drama with just seconds to play.

Nathanael Greene then missed their free throw, leading to a furious fight for the rebound. The ball ended up deflecting out of bounds off of a Patriot, thus giving the Knights a shot at winning the game with five seconds to go.

Walls received the inbound and got fouled almost immediately to take a shot at the winning the game with one second to go.

In the first contest with Nathanael Greene, the Knights relied on Walls to hit an and-one basket with almost no time on the clock in overtime to put the game away. He did, and the Knights went on to win by one point.

In the rematch on neutral ground, it came down to Walls once more. He hit both free throws and gave BCA a 2-point lead with a nearly dead clock to seal their trip to the region championship game.

"It was a hard-fought game between two teams who split the regular season," Barth pointed out. "It was kind of like déjà vu."

Walls finished the game with 20 points, including the game-winners.

The Knights met a hungry and formidable Curtis Baptist team, though, and fell 71-29 to the region champion Crusaders.

"They were clicking on all cylinders, there’s no doubt about that," Barth admitted. "They’re pretty tough."

The Crusaders, who are averaging 64.4 points per game and an admirable 47% field goal percentage, earned the region title in a big way Friday night.

"We weren’t playing bad as far as turning the ball over, but we just weren’t making our shots," Barth commented. "We were cold."

No Knights finished the game with double digits, though Kevin Green, who returned from a strained knee in the game against Nat Greene, led the Knights with eight points. Green was followed by fellow senior Matthew Adams with seven points.

"We were probably down 30 at the half," Barth commented, indicating just how dominantly the state-favorite played BCA Friday night.

Even so, Bethlehem lives on to play in the GISA Class A state tournament, which opens Thursday night at Thomas Jefferson against either Twiggs or David Emanuel based on the outcome of the Region 2-A tournament. Should the Knights win Thursday’s game, they would play in the semifinals at Georgia Southwestern on Saturday.

"If we win that first round, it would be our first time winning a state tournament game," Barth pointed out.

"This is our third year making the state tournament, but we haven’t won a game, and that was one of our goals this year to get past the first round," Barth acknowledged.

"I think we will."

Though the Knights took a tough loss Friday night, Barth hopes that they can rebound well in the state tournament and show what BCA basketball can do.

"I’m looking forward to representing our school and playing that first round," Barth admitted. "We look forward to getting that win and playing in the elite eight."



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