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Gaines leads Georgia on improbable journey

Archbishop Molloy graduate Sundiata Gaines, a native of Rochdale Village, led the Bulldogs on a wild ride en route to the tournament this weekend. Georgia had to play two Southeastern Conference tournament games Saturday, because a tornado hit the Georgia Dome, the tourney's host site. After the double-dip, the Bulldogs came back and beat Arkansas in the championship game Sunday at Georgia Tech, where the event was moved to."People (in Rochdale Village) were all outside yelling and screaming, hooting and hollering," said Pat Gaines, Sundiata's mother.The way Georgia did it was only half the amazing part. The Bulldogs came into the SEC tournament losers of 12 of their last 13 games. They were last in the SEC East this season. "It definitely was exhilirating," said Gaines, a senior, in a phone interview Monday. "At the same time, we knew it was our last chance to get the tournament...This is (my) last year. I didn't want to go out like that."Gaines, Georgia's four-year starter at point guard, averaged 15 points in the tournament, including a team-high 20 in the second game Saturday.Never showing any signs of fatigue, Georgia completed the run against Arkansas, racing to a 19-point lead and going on to its easiest victory of the weekend. The Bulldogs won their first three games by a total of 10 points with two of them decided in overtime."I thought it would be impossible to play twice in one day in college basketball," Gaines said.But the Bulldogs did it and somehow a team that came into the SEC tournament with a 4-12 conference record is now in the Big Dance. They are a No. 14 seed and they'll play No. 3 Xavier Thursday at 12:20 p.m. in Washington D.C. Already 20 people from Rochdale Village are set to make the trip down to the nation's capital, according to Pat Gaines."(Last week), it seemed almost impossible," Sundiata Gaines said.Now, it's a reality.Reach Associate Sports Editor Marc Raimondi by e-mail at mraimondi@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 130.

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