It was evident that the high school basketball teams on the floor at Boyd-Buchanan on Saturday were highly motivated. The host Buccaneers are on a quest to get to the state tournament, something they fell short of by a game last season. Lookout Valley was trying to extend the coaching career of 39-year veteran Joe Galloway for as long as possible.
The underdog Yellow Jackets hung around for a while, and even led at the end of the first quarter. But depth and experience prevailed and Boyd-Buchanan will advance to a Region 3-A semifinal after defeating Lookout Valley 59-41.
Boyd-Buchanan (25-3) will play either Copper Basin or Marion County at Arts & Sciences on Tuesday.
The Yellow Jackets led 12-10 after one quarter, and even after a 12-0 Boyd-Buchanan run, they managed to be within four points of the Bucs at halftime.
"We played about as well as we could," said Galloway, whose fifth-seeded team in the District 6 tournament qualified to play in the region after upsetting third-seeded Van Buren County last Saturday. "They're a good team. We've played well since the tournaments started and we got better. That's all you can ask for."
The Jackets were within 37-31 before Colby Arendale's 3-pointer from the right side started a 15-0 Bucs run that bridged the third and fourth quarters. After two free throws by Lookout Valley's Fitzgerald Morris with 4:29 to play, Boyd-Buchanan scored the next four points and had its largest lead at 56-33.
"I thought we just played a lot harder," Rose said of the second-half effort. "Honestly, too, a whole lot of credit goes to Lookout Valley. You could tell their kids were playing hard for Coach Galloway. Not just their kids, but everybody's kids look up to him."
Austin Walker sparked the Bucs' defense with six steals and he also led a balanced-scoring attack with 17 points. Jeremiah Nason came off the bench and totaled his 12 points over the last three quarters.
Justus McMillan scored his 10 points in the first half. Arendale, who started at point guard in place of Hall Allen, who sprained an ankle in practice and Rose said hopefully will be ready Tuesday, finished with eight.
"First of all they're unselfish," Galloway said of the Bucs. "They pass the ball extremely well and get your defense out of position. They play seven seniors, right? Defensively they know where each other are. They rotate to well to the ball."
Morris topped Lookout Valley (7-18) with 13 points and Chase Clounch was among four Yellow Jackets scoring six points. The game marked Clounch's last as a Lookout Valley player in addition to his grandfather's last as a coach.
"I told him before the game a lot of times I went to their games as a young coach coming up, just to watch him coach and to see what he does," Rose said of Galloway. "I probably know him better than he thinks I do."
Galloway needed only three words to summarize his career: "Lots of fun."
"I'll miss the games, and the kids for sure," he said. "But I'm still planning on being around and watching some games. I'll be all right."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.