With 2:35 remaining in Friday night's District 5-A basketball game and his team leading by 22 points, Boyd-Buchanan's Austin Walker hustled to save a ball that was headed out of bounds. After chasing the ball down just before it crossed the line, his over-the-shoulder toss found a wide-open Hall Allen, who then sank an uncontested 3-pointer.
It was that kind of night for the Bucs.
On the road against Grace Academy, they found open teammates time and again in a 72-45 domination that moves Boyd-Buchanan to the top of the district standings with a 14-6 overall and 3-1 league record.
"Tonight especially, but really all year, we've been focused on playing more as a team," Bucs coach Cole Rose said. "We have some talented guys offensively, and to their credit, the last couple of games we've really bought into the less-is-more aspect of basketball. We've been sharing the ball with each other more, and getting great shots instead of good ones. I'm really proud of them for sticking with that through some other games we've had where the shots didn't fall."
Everything seemed to fall into place for Boyd-Buchanan on Friday against the defending district and region champion Golden Eagles. One of Allen's four 3s helped open up an early lead, and the Bucs closed the first quarter with a seven point advantage. Outstanding ball movement and strong defensive pressure helped Boyd-Buchanan create and finish scoring opportunities, and the Bucs ended the first half up 37-26.
"Defensively, I thought we did a good job of forcing pressure," Rose said. "I thought Zach Jenkins did a great job of denying their posts, and rebounding and covering up some of our mistakes. I just think our effort was really good all night."
Walker's basket midway through the third quarter extended the Boyd-Buchanan lead to 15 points, but back-to-back shots from Will Slack, followed by a block and score from Josh Smith, cut the Golden Eagles' deficit to nine with 2:39 remaining in the period.
Grace's growing frustration proved costly, however, as two players were called for technical fouls in the final two minutes, and by the end of the quarter, the Bucs' lead was back to 15.
"Obviously we got frustrated and got some technical fouls we shouldn't have gotten, but I thought that was the least physical we've been allowed to play all year," Grace coach Jon Mattheiss said. "We're a physical team, but we also have to be smart enough to adjust."
Grace (7-9, 2-2) got no closer than 13 the rest of the way, and two more 3s from Allen put the game out of reach. With 1:55 remaining and a 25-point lead showing on the scoreboard, the Boyd-Buchanan starters headed to the bench to celebrate their impressive victory. Allen 's 18 points led four Bucs in double figures, followed by Justus McMillan with 17, Jenkins with 14, and Walker with 12.
"That was a good, old-fashioned, taking us out to the woodshed," Mattheiss said. "They were definitely focused and ready to play. I felt like we were too, but once things started going south, we never recovered. They moved the ball really well, on offense and defense, and we were just watching and not getting in position.
"We didn't play a good game, and they played very well, and we tip our hat to them. The biggest thing for us is going to be refocusing. We can't go back to business as usual if we're going to have any chance to win this district."
The victory puts Boyd-Buchanan (14-6, 3-1) in control of its destiny in the District 5-A race. With league games remaining against Copper Basin, Silverdale, and a home rematch with Grace, the Bucs are currently tied for first place with Arts & Sciences, and would hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Patriots should it become necessary.
"I think confidence-wise and perspective-wise, this is really big for our kids," Rose said. "Traditionally, CSAS and Grace are the two top dogs in our district. It's one thing for us to believe that we can go out and play at this level, but to go out and actually do it proves that we can."
Grace Academy girls 40, Boyd-Buchanan 30:
The Lady Bucs rallied to tie the score at halftime, and were within 32-30 with 3:43 remaining, but Grace Academy held them scoreless the rest of the way. Sierra Nunley hit a 3-pointer to put the Lady Golden Eagles up 35-30, and finished tied for the game high with 13 points. Marisa McCalla also contributed 13 for Boyd-Buchanan.
(E-mail Jaime Barrett at email@example.com
BOYD-BUCHANAN 72 , GRACE ACADEMY 45
Boyd-Buchanan 21 16 15 20 -- 72
Grace Academy 14 12 11 8 -- 45
Boyd-Buchanan (72) -- Hall Allen 18, Justus McMillan 17, Cox 4, Austin Walker 12, Zach Jenkins 14, Mason 5, Arendale, Jackson, Antwine, Clarke, Covington, Bruns.
Grace Academy (45) -- Slack 9, Hughes, Swanson, Hernandez 2, Smith 7, Blake Savard 15, Tisdale, Godsey, McQueen 6, Mason, Powell 6, Cooke.
3-point goals: Boyd-Buchanan 6 (Allen 4, McMillian, Walker); Grace Academy 2 (Savard 2).
GRACE ACADEMY GIRLS 40, BOYD-BUCHANAN 30
Boyd-Buchanan 2 13 7 8 -- 30
Grace Academy 9 6 10 15 -- 40
Boyd-Buchanan (30) -- Payne 3, Balthrop 6, Reno, Davidson 1, Sewell, Marisa McCalla 13, Wright 5, Roland 2.
Grace Academy (40) -- Mouw 1, Jemane, Jessica Bonner 10, Goodman 2, Compton, Sierra Nunley 13, Carter, McMasters 7, Ruefernaught 7.
3-point goals: Boyd-Buchanan 1 (Payne); Grace Academy 3 (Bonner 2, Nunley).