High School Basketball

Hoops: BGA finds stride in 2nd half to tip FRA in district quarters; Lady Panthers advance

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Hoops – Battle Ground Academy at Franklin Road Academy, District Quarterfinals

Garnett Hollis Jr. 

Hitting stride during the postseason is exactly what most basketball teams want to be doing this month. And Battle Ground Academy boys hoops coach Jared Street said his team might be doing just that.

The Wildcats won their sixth game in eight contests Wednesday night with a 62-52 win at Franklin Road Academy. The victory pushed BGA into the Division II-A Middle Region District 3 semifinals as well as qualifying the Wildcats for the upcoming region tournament.

“What a fun group to coach, I mean this group of guys takes a ton of pride in defending and keeping people from scoring,” said Street, adding that 10 of his 14 players Wednesday also played football for the Wildcats. “Most of these guys play defense on the football field so when they come to the basketball court, they carry over that mentality.

“I’m just really proud of this team. We’re really late bloomers because so many of these guys play football, but they keep fighting, keep playing and grinding it out.”

BGA will face top-seeded Webb on Friday at Columbia Academy in the district semifinals. The Wildcats pushed the No. 1 team at home last week before falling 80-71. Christ Presbyterian Academy – 96-61 winners over Middle Tennessee Christian School Wednesday – will face host CA in the other semifinal. The Bulldogs topped Grace Christian Academy 92-66 Wednesday.

Garnett Hollis Jr. scored 23 points to lead all scorers at FRA, while Kaleb Seay pumped in eight of his 15 in a decisive third-quarter surge for BGA.

The Wildcats broke a 22-22 halftime tie by going on a 22-9 run in the frame.

Hollis Jr. said dropping both regular season games to FRA provided plenty of motivation for the Wildcats.

“I think losing to them the first two times gave us a little fuel and once we started hitting our shots and playing tough defense, that’s when we really took the lead,” the Northwestern football signee said.

Seay said BGA relied on its preparation for the game, which showed during early as the Wildcats jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first and came out of the half ready to take back control after FRA pulled even at the end of the second quarter.

“Mentally and physically, we knew what we had to do,” Seay said. “But we knew it was going to be a dog fight. When we got up, we didn’t relax or anything because this is game of runs so we were expecting them to make one.”

The shifty shooters of FRA relied heavily on their 3-point shooting. The Panthers knocked down 13 triples in the game, but managed only three other makes from the field.

John Pierce led the home team with 17 points and five 3-pointers. Both Sean Casey and Eli Warrix added four 3s apiece.

The trio came through in the fourth immediately after BGA extended its lead to 49-32 on a Jorian Cantrell jumper in the lane with 5:26 to play. Both Pierce and Casey answered with 3s and when Pierce slashed to the hoop for a drive, it capped an 8-0 spurt in just 65 seconds to pull FRA within 49-40.

“They’re a very dangerous team,” Street said of FRA. “I mean you can see, they shoot the ball really well, especially in their own gym.

“Although we could have guarded the 3-point line better, I think for the most part we did a great job of defensively. We persevered and fought through.”

The Wildcats had several opportunities to extend their lead at the foul line before the play of Mitch Petzelt helped push BGA comfortably back in front.

Petzelt scored all seven of his points in the fourth. His 3-point play with 2:26 remaining gave the visiting team a 54-40 lead. On the ensuing FRA possession, Petzelt defended a deep 3-pointer from Casey, tracked down the long rebound and was fouled in front of the FRA student section. He then connected on both free throws in the bonus for a 16-point cushion with 2:12 left.

“Mitch plays so hard and with so much heart,” Street said. “Every game, every practice, every weight room workout, he gives it his all and the rest of our kids have tremendous respect for him and thrive when he thrives.”

Pierce added a pair of late 3-pointers to trim the deficit, but BGA stayed in front at the foul line shooting 12-of-18 in the fourth.

“This feeling is great to get the win, but after the night, this one is over,” Seay said. “We’ll get to work tomorrow and prepare again.”

Wednesday’s early game swung in favor of the FRA girls. Both teams matched up in the district quarterfinals as the No. 3 seeds against the No. 6 seeds.

Zharia Hutchinson scored 25 points and the Lady Panthers pulled away in the third quarter to dispatch the BGA girls.

The Lady Wildcats stayed with FRA in the first half and trialed just 19-17 at the break. FRA used a 17-7 run in the third to gain some momentum as Hutchison netted eight in the frame. Macie Medes added two of her four 3-pointers in the third as well.

BGA never got closer than 10 points the rest of the way. Kearstyn Seay and Lindsey Summarell both scored eight for the Lady Wildcats.

Battle Ground Academy boys 62, Franklin Road Academy 52

BGA – 13 9 22 18 – 62

FRA – 9 13 9 21 – 52

BGA (62) – Sean Williams 3, Jorian Cantrell 6, Briston Bennett 3, Kaleb Seay 15, Nick Semptimphelter 2, Garnett Hollis Jr. 23, Mitch Petzelt 7, Calvin Quehl 3.

FRA (52) – Kingston Gardner 1, RJ Casey 4, Eli Warrix 12, John Pierce 17, Sean Casey 16, Jackson Culmiskey 2.

3-pointers – BGA 2 (Seay, Quehl); FRA 13 (Pierce 5, Warrix 4, S. Casey 4). Total Fouls – BGA 16; FRA 27. Fouled Out – R. Casey.

Franklin Road Academy girls 51, Battle Ground Academy 37

BGA – 9 8 6 14 – 37

FRA – 12 7 17 15 – 51

BGA (37) – Naomi Nelson 6, Bella Bugg 6, Graci Semptimphelter 7, Lindsey Summarell 8, Kearstyn Seay 8, Phoebe Proctor 2.

FRA (51) – Ryan Pierce 7, Macie Medes 12, Iris Heldman 8, Zharia Hutchinson 25.

3-pointers – BGA 5 (Nelson 2, Bugg 2, Semptimphelter); FRA 6 (Medes 4, Heldman 2). Total Fouls – BGA 13; FRA 14. Fouled Out – Proctor.

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