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BGA vs FRA, Round 4, to determine state title

BGA's Nathan Moran looks to make the entry pass to Myles Taylor in last night's 69-32 win over Davidson Academy.  Taylor finished the night with 6 points while Moran had 17 points and 6 assists.
Photo by Becky Williams 


The BGA Wildcats forced Evangelical Christian out of its comfort zone, increasing the tempo on the way to a 60-41 win to advance to the Division II Class-A basketball state championship game. 
Senior point guard, Nathan Moran scored 26 points for the Wildcats and knew his team had to break ECS out of their ball-controlling, half court style of offense.
Jack Gentry of BGA drives the baseline past a pair of Davidson Academy  defenders.  Gentry was one of fourteen Wildcat players to contribute in a 69-32 win last night. Photo by Becky Williams 
BGA Coach Len McKnatt had his team ready on Thursday, knocking off Evangelical Christian School 60-41 to advance to Saturday's TSSAA Division II-A championship game against old rival FRA. Photo by Joe Williams 
“We knew to push the tempo we had to get stops on defense and get stops quick,” Moran said. “We were double (teaming) a lot to speed them up as much as we could.”
BGA was able to score in spurts by creating turnovers and turning those into baskets. Steals became more frequent from the Wildcat defense after Eagles point guard, Isaac James left the game with a shoulder injury in the second quarter. BGA forward, Andrew Cowie said ECS continued to play hard without their floor leader.
“He’s obviously a very good player,” Cowie said of James. “He handles the ball well and removing that ball handler from their team was a big hurt for them. I felt like they played hard the entire time.”
Cowie finished with 11 points for BGA with his fellow big men Zac Wracher and Terrell Webster scoring 8 points each. Marcus Lytle was the only player for ECS in double figures scoring 10 points. 
Saturday’s state championship game means a fourth meeting with Franklin Road Academy. FRA won in Thursday’s semi-final game in an instant classic over Webb School of Knoxville.
FRA had the ball trailing Webb 54-53 with 5 seconds left. Panthers guard, Tori Smith dribbled to the top of the key and knocked down a 3-pointer over a defender’s outstretched hand as the buzzer sounded. FRA students stormed the court to celebrate a state championship game berth with their team. 
BGA won the two team’s previous three meetings this season. With winning scores of 70-64, 71-61 and 81-75, BGA coach, Len McKnatt isn’t taking ‘Game 4’ lightly.
“We feel fortunate to be on the same court with them and we know we’re going to have to play our best in order to win,” McKnatt said. “Both teams play really hard. I think both teams play really passionate. We have really good crowds and it’s turned into a pretty good rivalry.”
Cowie and FRA center, Rob Marberry, know each other extremely well dating back to AAU summer leagues and a state championship battle will close out their high school careers.
“I’ve played with (Marberry) for years,” Cowie said. “Our tendencies, we know each other, how he will play the, the moves he’s going to make. With that matchup it intensifies the game, the atmosphere and makes us want to play that much harder because we are competing with friends.”
A chance to play for BGA’s first ever state championship in twenty years is something that this team is embracing. Moran and Cowie both agreed that this team’s tournament run is more than the players on the squad, but the entire BGA community.
“It means a lot for our school, not just for our team or us individually,” Moran said. “We’ve been playing for each other all year and we know we have to give it (our) all every single night.”
“We had close to 500 students here (Thursday),” Cowie added. “As big as this is for us it’s as big for them. We’re a giant family and we’re playing for each other. We’re trying to represent the school to the best of our abilities. We’re here doing it just because we love it.”
The Division II, Class A state championship game is scheduled for Saturday afternoon in Lipscomb University’s Allen Arena at 3:00.

Sam Wracher snags a rebound in BGA's TSSAA Division II-A semi-final victory over Evangelical Christian School yesterday at Allen Arena.
Photo by Tom Thomson
BGA senior Nathan Moran scored 26 points in the Wildcat's 60-41 win over ECS yesterday at Lipscomb's Allen Arena. With the win, BGA advances to tomorrow's 3 p.m. championship game against FRA. Photo by Joe Williams 

Posted on: 2/27/2014


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