It was fitting that Boyd-Buchanan's defense made the decisive play in the Buccaneers' first-round game against Baylor on Thursday in the Times Free Press Best of Preps basketball tournament at Chattanooga State.
The Red Raiders managed to be within two points after the Bucs' Austin Walker missed the back end of a one-and-bonus set of free throws with 14.4 seconds to play. But after a hounded Matt Clendenen dribbled the ball off his foot, Baylor recovered and frantically passed the ball around until Gage Upshaw launched an off-balance 3-point shot that bounded off the goal at the buzzer, giving the Bucs a 41-39 victory.
Boyd-Buchanan (11-0) will play Ooltewah tonight in a championship semifinal at 8:30. Baylor (6-3) will play Ringgold in an afternoon consolation semifinal at 2:30.
The Bucs practically led the whole way, although never by more than six points. The Red Raiders' only leads were 11-10 and 29-28.
"We're playing pretty good defensively right now," Boyd-Buchanan coach Cole Rose said. "They're bigger than our guys in the post, so we worked a lot on post defense this week."
Boyd-Buchanan's 6-foot-5 Zach Jenkins towers over most of his teammates but was surrounded by multiple Baylor players about his size. His value to his team far exceeded the nine points he scored.
"Half the stuff he does doesn't show up in the box score," Rose said. "He gave such great help-side defense, they couldn't make an entry pass. He deserves a ton of credit."
Austin Walker paced the Bucs' scoring with 13 points.
The Red Raiders got 11 points each from Sammy Lupas and Amedeo Giussani and 10 from Clendenen.
"We didn't play together as a team," Baylor coach Austin Clark said. "We were very impatient offensively. They played well defensively, and I thought we played well defensively. We just didn't play well on the offensive end. They hustled really well. You could see their senior leadership in how hard they played. This can be a good thing, as long we learn from it."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.