Today's local TSSAA boys' state-sectional schedules
Class A: 7-South Greene at Meigs County, Clarkrange at Boyd-Buchanan; 8-Sale Creek at Goodpasture
Class AA: 7-Livingston Academy at Tyner; 8-Brainerd at Upperman
Class AAA: 8-Walker Valley at Siegel
It's been a year since Boyd-Buchanan's boys' basketball team left the Chattanooga State gymnasium after a season-ending loss that left the Buccaneers a game short of advancing to the TSSAA Class A state tournament.
Clarkrange was the team that did them in that night. But ask the Bucs and they'll likely say they did themselves in, blowing an eight-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and losing 53-49.
"It was awful," Boyd-Buchanan post player Zach Jenkins said of the emotion after last year's game. "That was probably one of the worst feelings I've ever felt."
As fate would have it, Boyd-Buchanan (27-3) has worked its way back to a state sectional, this time choosing to play at its home gym, and again against Clarkrange (19-13). Tipoff for tonight's game is 7.
Seven seniors make up the core group for the Bucs. They're experienced, selfless, and together represent a uniquely balanced team.
For instance, Justus McMillan, the team's second-leading scorer at 12.8 points per game, was voted the District 5 regular season's player of the year. Leading scorer Austin Walker (13.6 ppg) was selected as the most valuable player of the district tournament. Q.D. Cox, a defensive demon who averages eight points per game, was chosen MVP of the region tournament.
"Since we've been playing together for so long, and we haven't lost anybody for any long amount of time, our chemistry is a lot better, especially this last year," said Jenkins, an all-tournament selection in the Times Free Press Best of Preps tournament and the district tournament. "The wins help."
Point guard Hall Allen (6.9 ppg) missed seven games this season, the first six after having toe surgery and one recently with a sprained ankle, but was among four Bucs on the all-district team in the regular season and among four on the all-region-tournament team. The other seniors are reserves Jeremiah Nason (5.6 ppg), an all-region-tournament selection, and Colby Arendale (3.9 ppg), who paced the team in scoring on senior day.
"Eight different players have led us in scoring this year," said Boyd-Buchanan coach Cole Rose, with junior post player Demaris Macon (2.9 ppg) being the other. "Obviously it's because we're balanced, but also because all the kids don't care who scores. They're focus is more on winning the game. It's been nice getting to coach a team that's that unselfish."
Jenkins is the tallest Bucs player at 6-foot-4, but Clarkrange features two big post players. Therefore, a heavy burden will likely be placed on Jenkins, which is just what he wants.
"I think it's great we're playing Clarkrange again," Jenkins said. "I was wanting another chance at them."
And he's not alone with that line of thinking.
"The fact that we're matched up with them again," Rose said of the Buffaloes, "my motivational speech will be pretty easy for this one."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter 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.