Suwannee’s Nicolas McClain takes off for a dunk against Buchholz on Nov. 26.

LIVE OAK — It didn’t take the Suwannee boys basketball team long to show it possesses multiple weapons.

In their Nov. 26 season opener, the Bulldogs pulled away late in the second quarter behind a trio of guards as they downed visiting Buchholz 66-55.

Suwannee led 16-15 when Nicolas McClain started a barrage of 3-pointers and buckets off turnovers to help the Bulldogs open up a 36-20 lead in the third quarter. McClain hit two 3-pointers in the spurt and opened the third with a steal and a dunk.

Joining McClain on the fun was Tyree Taylor, who drained one of the 3-pointers and also scored off a turnover, while Tyrece Freeman also turned a Bobcat turnover into a basket.

“We have some solid weapons; I inherited some talented guys,” Suwannee coach Malcolm Pollock said. “What happens is teams can’t key in on one guy. We had a time when Taylor was on, then he would go cold, and Freeman would kick in, and also McClain. That trio is pretty solid for us.”

Freeman agreed.

“I like our offense, it’s lethal, and not all eyes are on me,” he said. “It helps create space for me.”

Colson Orth hit a 3-pointer for Buchholz after McClain’s dunk but Suwannee continued to surge, eventually extending its lead to 48-23. Orth had 14 points for the Bobcats.

But with the big lead, the Bulldogs went silent as Buchholz used a 19-4 run to pull back within 52-42 midway through the fourth.

“We got careless at the end,” Pollock said. “I got on the team about that because good teams will take the momentum from that and beat you.”

Pollock added that it’s good experience for a team to face comebacks, particularly early in the season.

“Can you stay posted enough to protect the lead and win a game?” he added. “We took a couple bad shots, but I saw my guys fighting back, we handled the momentum and I was able to see how we would handle a team pressing us full court man-to-man.”

The Bulldogs returned with a Freeman offensive rebound and bucket and Wesley Jones contributed two baskets to put Suwannee up 59-48.

Buchholz tightened things up a little more with two minutes remaining on a Tron DeCastro 3-pointer to narrow the gap to 59-51.

From there, though, Suwannee handled the Bobcats’ full-court press with McClain hitting a bucket and Taylor and Freeman combining to make five free throws down the stretch.

Taylor and Jones had 15 points each and Freeman scored 13 for the Bulldogs.

Despite the win, Pollock said there is still work for the Bulldogs to do, noting missed free throws late.

“We were practicing (free throws) in the gym early this morning,” Pollock said. “We could have stretched the lead more.”

Freeman added: “We got too comfortable and we’re not use to it. We have a new coach, and a new program and we have to get use to it and stay focused and not get too comfortable.”

The Bulldogs went 1-1 during the Thanksgiving break, losing to Florida A&M 72-67 in the Thanksgiving Invitational in Tallahassee on Friday and beating Hamilton County 85-76 at home Saturday. Suwannee heads to Gainesville on Wednesday before playing at Santa Fe on Thursday and at Columbia on Saturday.

Jeff Shourds is a sports writer for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press.

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