Freeport falls in semifinals to Baker Gators

Tina Harbuck

After a close first half, the Freeport Bulldogs lost 70-59 to the Baker Gators in the District 3-1A seminfinals on Tuesday evening Freeport.

“Well it was good for a while,” said Freeport Coach David Felix.

“Last night’s game caught up with us a little bit,” Felix said. Freeport beat South Walton 52-46 in the first round of the district tournament on Monday night.

“I thought Case (Woodard) didn’t have any legs left because he played every minute last night,” Felix said.

In Monday’s win over South Walton, Woodard, a sophomore, put up 27 points.

And on Tuesday, Woodard again led the Freeport scoring putting up 21 points, with the majority coming in the second half.

To start, Freeport got on the board first with a couple of free throws from Jarrod Carley. About a minute later, Freeport’s Zack Seay drained a 3-pointer. Baker’s Octavius McLaughlin made a fastbreak layup to get the Gators on the board. Freeport’s Carley hit another layup and Wesley Canaday put a rebound back for two and a 9-2 lead, the largest the Bulldogs would have all night. Baker closed the gap with a couple of layups. The scoring went back and forth with Baker’s McLaughlin, who finished with 19 pionts, nailed a 3-pointer and Kalee Ciurleo hit a shot to give Baker a 13-12 lead. Freeport’s Canaday hit one from underneath, but McLaughlin sank one at the buzzer for a 15-14 Gator advantage.

In the second quarter, Baker made a little run with Ciurleo hitting a couple of baskets and McLaughlin one for a 25-18 lead. Freeport’s Noahh Cole checked in the game and put up a couple of inside shots. Baker answered with a bucket, then Cole drove the lane for another basket. In the last minute, Baker killed about 45 seconds off the clock, just holding the ball, before John McLaughlin scored at the last second. Baker led 31-25 at half.

At the start of the third period, Freeport closed it down again with Woodward swishing a 3-pointer and then later picked up a foul for a 31-29 game. The scoring went back and forth with Freeport taking it inside while the Gators worked the outside perimeter. The Gators led 49-37 at the end of three.

In the fourth quarter, Freeeport made a big push in the first four minutes with Cole sinking a basket and Woodard driving the ball inside for six points. Baker picked up a technical and Woodard went to the line hitting both shots, but the Bulldogs still trailed by nine. In the last three minutes, the Bulldogs were forced to foul in effort to get the ball back with Woodard and Lane Free fouling out. Baker went to the line 10 times and made 12 of 19 in those last few minutes. Baker won 70-59.

Scoring in double digits for Baker were McLaughlin with 19, Austin Walters with 16 and Ciurleo with 14.

Tops for the Bulldogs were Woodard with 21, Cole with 12 and Canaday with nine. Zack Seay scored seven and Carley four.

“It’s been a great year … eight wins,” Felix said.

“And they have improved. It’s unbelieveable how much they have improved. It’s been a lot of fun, I hate for it to end.”