Growing up in a family that loves basketball has helped Caden Johnson be physically and mentally ready for big moments as an underclassman starter for Boyd Buchanan.
Now the sophomore point guard has the Buccaneers in a region title game for the first time since the 2013-14 season, when the program made a run to the TSSAA Class A state tournament.
Johnson fired up the home crowd Thursday night in Jett Gymnasium by scoring 10 of his game-high 17 points in the first quarter to lead Boyd Buchanan to a 69-41 win over Silverdale Baptist Academy in a Division II-A East Region semifinal.
The Bucs will host Notre Dame (18-6) at 6 p.m. Saturday for the title.
"I love to compete," said Johnson, whose brother Ian was a standout senior last year for the team and whose father Gabe is an assistant coach and played for a state championship in high school before going on to play in college.
"My dad is a great basketball mind, and my brother kicked my butt in one-on-one (games) every day growing up. Losing a ton to him helped me get way better."
In addition to points, Johnson has provided the Bucs with rebounds, good defense, on-court leadership and toughness.
"Caden lives in the weight room and is a great football player, too," Boyd Buchanan head coach Josh Templeton said. "He is a coach's kid. His father is a brilliant basketball mind, and that has certainly helped him become the standout player he is already at a young age."
The Bucks (17-8) have also rallied around John Craw, who made four 3-pointers against the Seahawks, and 6-foot-6 freshman Ace Bailey, who wowed the crowd with a steal for a two-handed slam and then hit a contested 3-point attempt seconds after.
Boyd Buchanan senior Luke Stum also has played meaningful minutes after coming back from a broken ankle in the preseason, an injury that kept him out until just recently.
Notre Dame 60, Concord Christian 45: The Fighting Irish won their semifinal on the road to earn another matchup with Boyd Buchanan, which has a 2-1 edge in the season series.
Red Bank 81, Hixson 47: The Lions were dominant at home in a District 6-AA quarterfinal victory. Kel Eddins had 20 points, nine rebounds and five assists, and Ryan Barber (18 points) was 8-for-8 from the field. Kalen Sewell added 13 points and 10 rebounds as Red Bank coach Nick Fike picked up his 100th career win.
Heritage 60, Pickens 52: In the GHSA Region 7-AAAA semifinals at Northwest Whitfield, the Generals (16-7) earned a spot in Friday's championship game as Caden Snyder scored 21 points and Carson Palmer chipped in 20. The two combined for 11 3-pointers as Heritage never trailed after the early going.
"We shot it well," Heritage coach Kevin Terry said. "We attacked a matchup we liked off the dribble and forced them to help. We were able to kick the ball out to Carson and Caden, and they splashed them in."
Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 65, Ringgold 49: In the GHSA Region 6-AAA quarterfinals at Sonoraville, the Warriors (13-7) put an end to the surprising late-season run of their Catoosa County rivals as JaMichael Davis had a game-high 20 points. Brent Bowman added 17 and Dee Calhoun scored 14 — with 12 coming in the second quarter — for LFO, which will play top-seeded LaFayette in a semifinal at 8:30 p.m. Friday.
North Murray 56, Murray County 47: At Sonoraville, the sixth-seeded Mountaineers (12-12) shocked the third-seeded Indians (17-6) as JaN'iyous Ross scored a game-high 24 points, 15 of them coming in the second half. Ty Kendrick added 11 points and Seth Griffin nine for North Murray, which will face No. 2 seed Sonoraville in a 4:30 p.m. semifinal Friday. Haden Newport led Murray County with 23 points, with Carson Weaver adding 12.
Model 55, Chattooga 54: In the GHSA Region 7-AA final at Chattooga, brothers Jeremias and Jakenes Heard combined for 30 points as Model upset the top-seeded hosts in the title game. Jeremias Heard had eight of his points in the final quarter as the Blue Devils (21-5) held off a rally by the Indians (17-3), who got within a point after trailing by nine earlier in the quarter. Cash Allen led Chattooga with 19 points, with Jaylon Johnson and Damien Smith adding 14 each.
Coosa 58, Dade County 54: Also at Chattooga, the Wolverines came up short in the third-place game.
Northwest Whitfield 59, Cedartown 37: The host Lady Bruins (13-9) reached the GHSA 7-AAAA title game as Emma Allen hit five 3-pointers on her way to a game-high 25 points. McKenzie Brueckner added 11 for Northwest, which will face Pickens for the championship Friday night after the Lady Dragons topped Heritage 56-46 on Thursday.
Compiled by Patrick MacCoon and Lindsey Young. Contact MacCoon at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon. Contact Young at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.