Before the Boyd Buchanan boys' basketball team hosted district rival Notre Dame, the Buccaneers already had surpassed their win total from all of last season.
Tuesday night, that total grew one notch higher after guard Ian Johnson drilled a late 3-pointer to complete Boyd Buchanan's fourth-quarter comeback and iced away a 47-44 win away with clutch free throws in front of a gym-filled crowd.
The win extended the Bucs' early-season record to 9-1, 3-0 in Division II-A East Region District 2, while the Irish dropped to 2-5, 0-1.
"If they were going to guard me then I was going to kick it to one of my buddies, but if they played off I was going to pull up like I did and hit the shot," Johnson said about the crucial 3. "I know everybody was tired from both teams, but I really feel like we wanted it more.
"We were together in locking up on defense in the fourth quarter, and that let us play free on offense."
The opening quarter was a fast-paced period in which the lead changed hands five times with three ties sprinkled in. The Bucs rattled off a 9-3 run to end the first frame and get the Boyd Buchanan crowd and student section fired up, but the Irish calmed the noise quickly before halftime.
The Irish's Cal Price stepped up late in a gritty, defensive-minded second quarter when he drained three consecutive free throws after a shooting foul and then bagged a corner 3 seconds later after a Bucs tur nover.
Tied at 27 at halftime, Notre Dame became the aggressor in the third quarter, outscoring Boyd Buchanan 13-5 — including a 9-0 run ending the period.
"Notre Dame deserves a lot of credit, because they took us out of everything we wanted to do offensively in the second and third quarter," Boyd Buchanan coach Josh Templeton said. "Fortunately we gathered ourselves eventually, but our defense really kept us in the game."
The Bucs scored the first two baskets of the fourth quarter to quickly cut their eight-point deficit in half. Next, a good jump shot from Notre Dame guard Riley Covington managed to be the Irish's only meaningful basket of the quarter as Boyd Buchanan strung together the next 11 points to close out the game.
"The number one thing is the boys are one year older," Templeton said about the difference in last year's seven-win team to now. "They've really bought into just wanting to take pride in what they do, especially our defensive identity. It's nice to see some of the results from that."
Johnson led the Bucs with 14 points with a pair of 3-pointers. Teammate Will Emrey scored 10.
Notre Dame's Derwin Lewis scored a game-high 18 points with four 3s. Price also had double-digit scoring for the Irish with 13 points.
Contact John Mitchell at email@example.com.