Boyd-Buchanan's 48-45 boys' high school basketball victory Tuesday at Sale Creek was every bit the defensive struggle the final score indicates.
But the host team even struggled shooting when there was no defense.
To begin with, Boyd-Buchanan (7-0) held the Panthers without a field goal the first 12:07 of the second half. And even though Sale Creek's pressure defense caused the Buccaneers some problems, once Justus McMillan made an off-balance layup to start the second-half scoring, they never trailed again.
"I thought our defense was effective, especially in the second half," Boyd-Buchanan coach Cole Rose said. "That's what won it for us. Even though we weren't playing offense very well, our defense helped give us some breathing room."
Although they struggled from the field after halftime, the Panthers did manage to get to the free-throw line 14 times. However, they missed two more than they made (6-of-14, 11-of-23 for the game).
"We had at least nine points that at least twice hit the rim in the fourth quarter and didn't go down," Sale Creek coach David Helton said. "They played good defense, but we missed 12 free throws in the game. The physicality of the game reminded me of a region-tournament game. I was excited for our kids to be able to play in that kind of atmosphere. It's only going to help you down the road."
Chase Janow capped his 20-point performance with a 3-point shot from the top of the key at the buzzer to make the final score as close as it was. He scored the last eight points in the first half for Sale Creek (4-4), including a three-point play with a dunk for the basket and a 3-point goal.
But no other teammate scored more than seven points in the game. After Jackson Cordell's runner in the lane at 5:35 of the second quarter, the next basket by one of the Panthers other than Janow was when Cody Daniel converted a three-point play with 1:21 to go.
"We have some kids that can shoot the ball," said Helton, who noted that two starters were suspended for the game. "But good defenses will cause you to play hesitant."
The Bucs were without forward Austin Walker, who averages 15 points a game. Additionally, point guard Hall Allen came off the bench in his second game back after toe surgery and was limited to two points. McMillan led Boyd-Buchanan, which was 10-of-16 from the line, with 12 points. Q.D. Cox scored 11 and Colby Arendale and Jeremiah Nason contributed eight apiece.
"That's real big," Rose said of his team's balanced-scoring ability. "It's just a matter of finding who's hot on a given night. Tonight was more of an ugly team-effort win. In high school basketball, that kind of thing happens. Teenagers are pretty unpredictable."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.