Boyd Buchanan senior guard Luke Stum believed Saturday night's basketball game would be a fight to the finish.
Stum was proven right as coach Josh Templeton's Buccaneers overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half to win the program's first Division II-A East Region championship, 48-46 over visiting Notre Dame as a 3-point heave by the Fighting Irish glanced off the right side of the backboard as the buzzer sounded.
"Coach is big on boxing and before the game we watched a fight between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward," Stum said. "Gatti broke his hand in the fight but came back from it to win. We knew something like that would happen in this game and it would be an absolute dogfight, but we kept our head up and stayed composed."
Notre Dame senior guard Bryson Smith scored his team's first eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers, on his way to a game-high 13, and Cal Price's long-range shooting and a tough layup before halftime helped the Irish build a 22-13 lead entering the break.
Boyd Buchanan (18-8) fought back as sophomore forward Jacob Shockley dominated in the paint, scoring six straight points to aid an 11-0 run that tied the game at 24 with 2:20 left in the third quarter.
With the score tied in the fourth, senior John Craw locked in from the left corner, draining consecutive 3-pointers in front of his team's bench to give the Bucs a 38-32 lead with 3:25 remaining.
"I literally wanted to slap him on the butt as he was going by," Templeton said of Craw, who has seven 3-pointers in the past two games. "He has made so many sacrifices and overcome knee injuries to get to this point. He told me this summer if he only had one game, he would be happy. He just wanted to play. To see him come out here and do this literally makes me about cry. I am happy for him and all of our guys who have left everything out there."
Ryan Lopez converted several impressive drives in the win, and Karson Gay and Caden Johnson made big buckets down the stretch for Boyd Buchanan as Notre Dame (19-7-1) kept firing back but could not break through. Shockley had 12 points, and Johnson and Lopez 11 each.
Boyd Buchanan won its first region championship since 2014, when the program was in Class A, and will receive a first-round bye in state competition before playing in the quarterfinals at home next Saturday.
"We all are playing for each other," said Stum, who has been a key factor in the postseason since returning five games ago from a broken ankle. "The No. 1 goal is to have a glorious death. We want to leave it all on the floor and have no regrets."
East Hamilton 78, McMinn County 59: The Hurricanes advanced to the District 5-AAA final behind strong performances by Darwin Randolph (20 points, six assists), Haynes Eller (19 points), Marcus Long (14 points) and Cade Pendleton (11 points, 16 rebounds). Hayden Frank scored 16 for the Cherokees.
LaFayette 58, Sonoraville 48: The Ramblers (19-1) rallied from a 14-point deficit in the GHSA Region 6-AAA tournament final to earn their second consecutive league championship and first since dropping down to Class AAA.
Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 76, North Murray 69: In the 6-AAA third-place game, Brent Bowman scored 31 points, 18 coming off 3-pointers, while Cameron Gregg added 19 points and 10 rebounds and JaMichael Davis had 13 and 13 for the winning Warriors.
Calhoun 50, Blessed Trinity 45, OT: In the 7-AAAAA title game Friday night at Cartersville, the Yellow Jackets (15-10) secured the region's top seed after Dylan Faulkner scored seven of his team-high 17 points in overtime. Christopher Lewis added 15 points and Peyton Law 11 for coach Vince Layson's team.
Bradley Central 75, East Hamilton 53: Tied after the first quarter, the Bearettes rolled the rest of the way in the District 5-AAA semifinals. Hannah Jones finished with 12 points and four steals, Anna Muhonen scored 14 and Karsee Weber made four 3-pointers. East Hamilton's Morgan Bone had 10 points.
Sonoraville 73, Coahulla Creek 40: A day after scoring 49 points to win a defensive battle, host Sonoraville (21-4) routed the Lady Colts (20-4) to win the GHSA Region 6-AAA championship. Coahulla Creek had scored 73 points in Friday's semifinal win against Rockmart.
Ringgold 83, Rockmart 79, OT: Also at Sonoraville, the Lady Tigers (18-9) used 25 points and seven rebounds from Riley Nayadley to earn the No. 3 playoff berth from 6-AAA. Addi Broome added 22 points and 10 boards, with Baileigh Pitts finishing with 21 and seven. Ringgold, which will play at Gilmer at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the first round of state, also received 12 assists from point guard Rachel Lopez.
Northwest Whitfield 8, McIntosh 6: The Bruins improved to 2-0 as Cade Fisher and Keaton McQuaig hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the eighth for the extra-inning win. Fisher had three hits and two RBIs, with Asa Cleghorn, Aidan Hosford and McQuaig each driving in a pair of runs.
Heritage 14, Dalton 2: Cannon Stafford had a grand slam among his two hits and drove in five runs for the Generals in their season debut. Zach Barrett was the winning pitcher after allowing two runs and two hits in four innings, while J.T. Eaton had two hits, including a homer, and drove in two runs, with Dylan Bryan adding three hits and an RBI.
Mount Paran Christian 5, Gordon Lee 1: The Trojans lost their opener as Luke Dotson allowed two hits and no earned runs while striking out seven batters in 4 2/3 innings. Cade Peterson drove in the run for the Trojans.
Compiled by Patrick MacCoon and Lindsey Young. Contact MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon. Contact Young at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.