Well, look who’s coming to dinner.
Undefeated Boyd-Buchanan wiped out a three-point deficit with a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter and defeated Ooltewah, 59-51, Friday night and earned a spot in the Best of Preps basketball tournament championship game.
The Bucs (12-0) will play once-beaten Tyner on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. for the 2013 tourney title after finishing fifth in last year’s event at Chattanooga State. The Rams routed Notre Dame, 72-52, in the Friday’s first semifinal showdown.
“It’s unbelievable,” Bucs coach Cole Rose said. “It’s a recalibration of our expectations.”
Tyner will be making its third appearance in the title game.
Will be the Rams be charmed – and crowned – on the same night?
“I’m not into that,” Tyner coach Gerald Harris said. “We’ll see.”
Justus McMillan led the Bucs with 17 points. Austin Walker scored 13 and Hall Allen and Q.D. Cox each had 11 points.
C.J. Fritz paced Ooltewah with 19 points, including the first of the third quarter. Cox, who was fighting cramps near the end, limited Fritz to just one point – a meaningless free throw with 11.3 seconds left – over the final eight minutes. Ben Snider added 15 points for the Owls (7-4).
“Q.D. stopping (Fritz) was a big part of our defense,” McMillan said.
Cox, one of seven seniors on the Bucs’ roster, gave Boyd-Buchanan a huge boost by making an off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer to send the two teams into halftime deadlocked at 27-all.
Fritz quickly mangled the tie, scoring the Owls’ first 10 points in the third quarter and Snider added a layup to give Ooltewah a 39-31 lead. Later in the quarter Ooltewah’s Jarek Boyd scored three straight points to push the Owls’ lead to 45-35.
McMillan hit a layup and Allen dropped in a short bank shot and the Bucs closed the gap to 45-39, setting up the frantic final period.
The Bucs were oozing confidence.
“Ooltewah is the best team we’ve played,” Walker said, “but we came into this game thinking we were the better team. It wasn’t an underdog situation with us at all. We didn’t care what the front of the jersey said, we were coming in here to get the win.”
A superlative closing stretch did it.
A baseline drive by Cox cut Tyner’s lead to 46-45 with 5:57 left and the battle was on.
Jamycal Johnson, who scored a career-high 20 points in the Owls’ win over Ringgold on Thursday, drove the lane for a layup – his only points against the Bucs – and a 48-45 cushion.
Walker hit two free throws. Boyd scored on a left-handed putback and once again the Owls led by three – 50-47 – with 4:33 remaining.
Allen then started the 12-0 streak that will be talked about for years to come by the Bucs faithful with two free throws.
McMillan followed an Allen miss with a bucket.
Walker dropped in two free throws. Tyner’s Anthony Turner missed a 3, the Bucs turned the ball over in a jump-ball situation and Fritz’s contested baseline jumper was off the mark.
“(Fritz) had hit a bunch of shots, shots with a high degree of difficulty and we were playing solid defense, but not getting any stops,” Rose said. “I thought if we could get a few stops it would work out for us, and it did.”
Over the next 50 seconds, Zack Jenkins, Allen, Walker and McMillan made a combined 6 of 8 free throws to cap the decisive scoring spree and build a 59-50 advantage with 20.6 seconds left.
“We came in with the right attitude,” Ooltewah’s Ron King said. “We can’t win a game with one guy doing all the stuff. We have to get everybody involved in the game.”
Just as Bradley Central did a few weeks ago, the Bucs practically abandoned the outside game and attacked the basket to maul the Owls in the final minutes.
“We missed some layups, some free throws, turned it over some and our body language and mindset went south,” Owls coach Andre Montgomery said. “We started pouting and didn’t guard on the other end. How many jump shots did they make in the fourth quarter? I don’t think any. They made layups and free throws.
“Once the body language and mindset go south and you pout, you’ve still got to play the ballgame. These kids have to believe. Each of them has to have a gut-check. Mistakes don’t mean it’s the end of the world. You have talent and athleticism, but this is a mind game. Once your mind goes south, your game goes with it. These kids have to grow up. We’re eleven games into the season. We’ve got 37 kids in our program and I’m going to five or six who are at least going to compete. When you’re giving up layups in the fourth quarter, you’re not competing.”
Boyd-Buchanan didn’t have that problem.
“In December all you want is to face teams that give you different looks and prepare you for the postseason,” Rose said. “So, tonight was really good for us.”
Tyner 72, Notre Dame 52: Tyner’s defense put the clamps on Notre Dame in the second quarter, holding the Irish two to two points and none over the last 5:46 of the period. That broke a 14-14 tie after one quarter and the Rams were racing toward the championship game by halftime when they enjoyed a 31-16 advantage.
Tyner (9-1) took a 17-14 lead and Notre Dame’s Kareem scored on a lane floater at the 5:47 mark of the second quarter. Little did the Irish know they wouldn’t score again until Tyler Bird made a three-point play with 6:08 remaining in the third.
Before that, however, the Rams had reeled off 14 unanswered points to end the second period and added seven more in the third for a 21-0 spree.
“Defense more than anything else,” Tyner coach Gerald Harris said, referring to the key for his team’s impressive assault. “We were sluggish in the first quarter, but once we mellowed out our defense really stepped up.”
Freshman Kevin Cameron, who worked his way into the starting lineup after just three games, was a powerful force for the Rams, finishing with a game-high 18 points. He scored eight points in the second and third quarters to spur Tyner’s pull-away.
Cameron started the game-changing 21-0 spree with a field goal and two free throws and added back-to-back goals – 12 seconds apart – two minutes later helping to put the Irish in a deep hole.
“Moving from Orchard Knob (Junior High) to playing varsity at Tyner has been tough,” Cameron said. “Blending in with the older guys has been hard at times, but I’m doing better with that.”
What’s Cameron’s role?
“Coach wants me to rebound, get back on defense and run the plays,” he said.
Senior post Alex Watkins believes Cameron is fulfilling everything Harris wants from the rookie.
“He’s real good,” said Watkins, who scored 14 points in Friday’s win. “He’s always going up strong, getting after loose balls and he’s the best hustler on the team.”
Mixing it up underneath against taller players doesn’t bother Cameron at all.
“I’ve always played like that,” he said.
Watkins had an impact against the Irish in various ways and Harris has seen on a consistent basis this season.
“If he’s not blocking shots, he’s altering shots,” the coach said. “He’s really stepped up for us in a leadership role too.”
Watkins scored eight points in the first quarter when the game was still a game.
But when the Rams steamrolled their way into a huge lead, Notre Dame’s lack of depth reared its ugly head.
“We’re still feeling the effects of conditioning with players who came over from football,” Notre Dame coach J.P. Nerbun said. “I think that will be better in January, but right now we have no depth.”
Orr led Notre Dame (3-9) with 16 points and Tyler Byrd added 13, including 10 of the Irish’s 17 fourth-quarter points.
“Tyler picked up a couple of early fouls and he was over there with me,” Nerbun said. “We don’t have anybody to step into that role and that hurts us. We beat their press in the fourth quarter, but it bothered us later. If we could put four quarters together we can beat that team.”
McCallie 62, Grace Baptist 48: JaVaughn Craig poured in a game-high 19 points for the Blue Tornado, who bounced back from an opening loss to Tyner.
Craig, quarterback on the Blue Tornado football team, scored all 15 fourth-quarter points for McCallie.
Blake Savard paced the Golden Eagles with 16 points, including four 3s, and he got nine points in the second quarter.
Baylor 53, Ringgold 48: Matt Clendenen got back on track and led the Red Raiders (7-3) to a hard-fought victory over the Tigers.
Clendenen, who scored 70 points in three games last week as Baylor captured the Rhea County Holiday Hoops Shootout, led the Red Raiders on Friday with a game-high 26 points. He scored eight in the third quarter as Baylor built a 47-42 lead.
Amadeo Giussani scored 10 points for the Red Raiders, who made 14-of-24 free throws, with Clendenen hitting 6 of 8 and Giussani 4 of 6. The rest of the Red Raiders were 4 of 10.
Kile Sholl paced the Tigers with 16 points, 10 coming in the third period. Joey Roach added 11 points, including three 3s.
Ooltewah 17 10 18 6 –51
Boyd-Buchanan 11 16 12 20 – 59
Ooltewah (51) – Johnson 2, Boyd 7, King 7, Ben Snider 15, C.J. Fritz 19, Montgomery 1, Turner.
Boyd-Buchanan (59) – Hall Allen 11, Arendale, Justus McMillan 17, Q.D. Cox 11, Austin Walker 13, Jenkins 5, Nason 2.
3-Point Goals: Ooltewah 4 (Snider 2, King, Fritz); Boyd-Buchanan 1 (Cox).
Tyner 14 17 22 19 – 72
Notre Dame 14 2 19 17 – 52
Tyner (72) – R. Watson 2, Spence 8, Maston 8, Jones 4, Hardwick 8, Kevin Cameron 18, Strickland 2, Howard, Bonds 2, Wilson 6, Alex Watkins 14.
Notre Dame (52) – Green 8, Flemister 9, Davis, Kareem Orr 16, Ballard 4, Tyler Byrd 13, Harris, Lewis.
3-Point Goals: Tyner 2 (Mastin 2); Notre Dame 2 (Flemister 2).
Grace Baptist 11 16 13 8 – 48
McCallie 8 22 12 15 – 62
Grace Baptist (48) – Will Slack 14, Roberts 4, Lyons 6, Blake Savard 16, Hughes, Godsey 6, McQueen 2, Cooke.
McCallie (62) – Fritz 1, JaVaughn Craig 19, Adrian Thomas 16, Whitehead 1, Alford 6, Baird 3, Clark 2, Adkins 4, Cameron Walker 10, McDonald.
3-Point Goals: Grace Baptist 4 (Savard 4); McCallie 2 (Craig, Baird).
Ringgold 10 17 15 6 – 48
Baylor 15 16 16 6 – 53
Ringgold (48) – Joey Roach 11, J.T. Roach, Kile Sholl 16, Dean 6, Wilkey 3, Ransom 6, Volz, Sosebee, Brown, Baer 6.
Baylor (53) – Maize, Brogdon, Strawter, Matt Clendenen 26, Seaberg 6, Upshaw 4, King 7, Lupas, Amadeo Giussani 10.
3-Point Goals: Ringgold 8 (Jo. Roach 3, Sholl 2, Dean 2, Wilkey 1); Baylor 3 (Giussani 2, King).
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com)