MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A dominant three-minute span of the third quarter helped Booker T. Washington turn an otherwise back-and-forth game into a convincing 72-54 victory over Boyd-Buchanan in the Class A state tournament quarterfinals Wednesday at Middle Tennessee State University.
The Warriors used a 10-3 run during that stretch to push their lead to double digits, and the Bucs never got closer than nine the rest of the way.
"It's a sad way to go out," said Justus McMillan, one of seven Bucs seniors. McMillan finished with 11 points, including three first-half 3-pointers and also had five rebounds. "We accomplished a lot this year and we're proud that we got this far, but it's not the way we wanted it to end."
Making their first state tournament appearance in 17 years, the Bucs opened by scoring the game's first seven points and led for the six-plus minutes of the first half. But a 3-pointer by Angelo Smith put the Warriors up 27-24, and while the Bucs tied the game once more before halftime and led briefly early in the third quarter, BTW eventually began to pull away.
"We have six seniors on this team, and I told them this is their last chance to do something special," BTW coach Antonio Harris said. "We knew they were a good fundamental team with good shooters, and I thought the difference for us was our defense."
The most noticeable disparity came at the free throw line where the Warriors connected on 34 of 43 attempts, compared with Boyd-Buchanan's 5 of 9.
"We teach our kids not to complain about the officials, so we're not going to take that road," said Boyd-Buchanan coach Cole Rose, whose team had not lost to a Class A foe all season. "They penetrate a lot and create some foul situations with their style of play.
"I thought defensive rebounding during that run they had in the third quarter was the difference. We did a nice job for most of the game, but that one run there really hurt us. And once they got the lead, they did a nice job of controlling the game and not letting us answer with a run."
Contact Stephen Hargis at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6293.