One point ultimately proved to be the difference in Boyd-Buchanan earning the No. 1 seeding for this weekend's District 5-A boys' basketball tournament.
But 26 of them helped the Bucs clinch that spot on Tuesday.
That was the margin of victory in Boyd-Buchanan's dominant 68-42 win over visiting Grace Academy, while the one point differential is the margin by which the Bucs bested Arts & Sciences in the tiebreaker for the No. 1 seed. Both teams finished the regular season with a 7-1 district record after splitting their two head-to-head matchups, but the Bucs defeated CSAS by eight points, 58-50, one better than in the Patriots' 51-44 win over Boyd-Buchanan.
"This means a whole lot," Bucs coach Cole Rose said. "We got together at the beginning of the season and had a list of goals for our team. One of the main goals was to win the district, and as co-champions with CSAS, we accomplished that tonight. It's huge for our kids, and for our program. It's always big for kids when they set a goal, work really hard for it, and then accomplish it."
Knowing their goal was one win away from becoming a reality may have contributed to a slow start for the Bucs against Grace on Tuesday. The pressure seemed to show as they fell behind early while struggling to connect passes and convert baskets, and watched as the Golden Eagles found senior Austin Powell for 13 first-half points.
"I just think we were really tight in the first half," Rose said. "Our nerves kind of got to us, and then Grace played really well, especially Austin Powell in the first half."
With 3:52 remaining in the second quarter, QD Cox gave the Bucs their first lead since the opening minute when he nailed a long jumper, and less than 20 seconds later he connected on the same play from the same spot to put his team up 19-15. The teams traded leads over the next three minutes, with Boyd-Buchanan taking a 25-24 margin into halftime.
The Bucs opened the third quarter with six straight points, and watched their game open up from there. Assists, steals, and rebounds on both ends of the floor helped Boyd-Buchanan build a 15-point lead at the end of the period, and three fourth-quarter 3-pointers helped make it a blowout.
"We came out in the second half with better intensity and were a lot more relaxed," Rose said. "Once we started playing more of a full-court game instead of the half-court game that Grace wants to force, we were able to establish the tempo and the pace that we're the most comfortable with."
Boyd's Justin Walker led all scorers with 21 points, while Cox finished with 13 and Hal Allen had eight to go with his nine assists. Powell finished with 18 points and was the only double-digit scorer for the Golden Eagles (9-13, 3-5), who finished with the No. 3 seeding for the district tournament.
By securing a 20-win season for the first time in recent memory, the Bucs (20-7, 7-1) also gave themselves the right to serve as the official host for the District 5-A tournament, which will take place Friday and Saturday at Chattanooga State.
(E-mail Jaime Barrett at email@example.com
BOYD-BUCHANAN 68, GRACE ACADEMY 42
Grace Academy 12 12 8 10 -- 42
Boyd-Buchanan 9 16 22 21 -- 68
Grace Academy (42) -- Slack 6, Hughes, Swanson, Hernandez, Smith 6, Savard, Tisdale 2, Godsey 6, McQueen 4, Matheny, Mason, Austin Powell 18, Roberts.
Boyd-Buchanan (68) -- Allen 8, McMillan 6, QD Cox 13, Justin Walker 21, Zach Jenkins 6, Arendale 6, Nason 8, Jackson, Clarke, Covington, Bruns.
3-point goals: Grace 2 (Godsey 2); Boyd-Buchanan 4 (Allen 2, McMillan, Cox 1).