Whale Branch’s boys were on their way to a huge step towards a region title, but their dreams were dashed in the second half Friday. The Warriors went cold in the third quarter, letting a 15-point halftime lead slip away in a heartbreaking 45-43 loss to visiting Baptist Hill.
Jaquan Gillison led the way for Whale Branch with 17 points, and Devonta Bernard scored 13.
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It was a textbook start for the Warriors, as eight first-quarter points from Bernard coupled with a fantastic defensive effort put the home side out in front 13-4. Whale Branch grew their advantage in the second, finding production from both Jaquan and Jashaun Gillison. The duo combined for 11 of the team’s 14 points in the period as Jim Raymond’s squad took a 27-12 halftime lead.
But a disastrous third quarter evaporated the advantage entirely. The Warriors fell flat on the offensive end, scoring just four points in the frame as the Bobcats came out with a defensive statement and an 11-point quarter from Kaleb Brown to snatch the momentum with a 19-4 run and tie the score at 31.
It went down to the very end, but Whale Branch came up short despite seven fourth-quarter points from Jaquan Gillison. The Warrior defense couldn’t contain De’john Heyward and Damon Smith down the stretch, as the duo accounted for 10 of Baptist Hill’s 14 in the frame.
The defeat may have cost Whale Branch (5-3, 4-1) a shot at the region 7-1A title, and sets up a must-win game Monday at Military Magnet in order to qualify for the postseason.
— Wes Kerr