In a back-and-forth battle of two red-hot TSSAA Division II boys' basketball programs Friday night in Chattanooga, Baylor needed the final 1:45 to seal a tough 49-44 win at second-ranked Boyd Buchanan.
Evan Haynie had a massive steal late to spring Zane Restelli for a wide-open layup with 1:22 remaining, building a three-point lead for DII-AA's Baylor. Just seconds before, Restelli had answered a go-ahead 3-pointer by the DII-A Buccaneers' Caden Johnson with a tough bank shot to regain the lead for the Red Raiders.
Baylor's Cameron Sparks provided a key block and his 10th rebound of the game with less than a minute to play. Sparks' miss on the front end of a 1-and-1 opportunity at the foul line was snatched high in the air by teammate Brock Barton, whose offensive rebound led to a pair of free throws from Restelli that built the lead to 47-42 with 34 seconds to play.
Nyziah Whaley then sneaked behind the defense to haul in a long heave in bounds from Sparks and added one last basket for the final margin.
"We finished the game really well," Baylor coach Mark Price said. "Brock comes up with an unbelievable offensive rebound to pick his teammate up. The best thing we did tonight was nobody let our offensive foul trouble stop us from getting after it on the defensive end.
"Cameron Sparks continues to provide us with great defense and rebounding as he has done all year. He can guard any position on the floor and is a big part of this team."
Despite playing in foul trouble for most of the evening, Restelli rattled off a game-high 24 points, which included a clutch 3-pointer off the top right side of a screen for a 41-39 lead with just more than two minutes to play. He also blocked two shots.
The win was the Red Raiders' ninth in a row, and they improved to 10-4 overall as they prepare to jump into league play. Their recent success includes a title at the Best of Preps tournament just before the new year began.
Boyd Buchanan led 23-18 at halftime and received a pair of big 3-point buckets in the fourth quarter from Caden Johnson, who finished with 14 points.
The Bucs (17-3) competed without head coach Josh Templeton, who was out sick, but assistant coach Chris Jones was proud of the players' effort as they displayed veteran leadership in a handful of moments throughout the game.
"This reminds me of the year that I played here in 1996, when we won the state," Jones said. "It was that season after a road loss to Lookout Valley where we all realized we are really good at what we do.
"Tonight in the locker room after the game, the guys were not distraught. They feel like they had that game. They were more upset we didn't do it. They know Baylor is a great team, and we know we are, too. The leadership Josh has them under is a great tool for us to make a really deep run, we feel."
Boyd Buchanan girls 47, Soddy-Daisy 39: The Lady Bucs (15-5) played stout defense during a second half in which they allowed only a dozen points, and they were led offensively by Sarah Peyton Durham, who tied fellow sophomore Hannah Patterson of Soddy-Daisy for the game high in scoring at 17 points.
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org.