The Boyd-Buchanan Buccaneers came out ready to play Saturday night in the friendly confines of Tom Jett Gymnasium.
With a near-capacity crowd cheering every move and a pep band that kept the place rocking, the Bucs responded with an outstanding performance which translated into a 76-53 victory over the visiting Sale Creek Panthers in the quarterfinal round of the Region 3-A basketball tournament.
"Offensively, we looked really good as our unselfishness and sharing of the ball really paid off," said Boyd-Buchanan coach Cole Rose after the game ended.
"The pace was important as we wanted an upbeat tempo. Sale Creek did a good job of working the clock in the first half, but our defensive pressure was huge.
Sale Creek shot the ball really well in the first half and we were just up by eight at the half, but I told our guys that the third quarter would be important and they responded.
"I'm proud of our effort, but I asked them after the game if they were satisfied. I'm happy with the way we played, but I still think we can play better. You can't afford to give too many chances in an elimination game like this, so there was no time to let up," Rose smiled.
Cody Heard scored on an inside move in the first minute of the game to give Sale Creek its only lead at 2-0. Teammate Chase Janow canned a long 3 midway through the quarter to knot the score at 9-9, but the Bucs scored 10 unanswered points in the next two minutes for a 19-9 lead and the finished the quarter on a 17-4 run for a 26-13 lead when the first stanza ended.
The Bucs were clicking on all cylinders as the difference was 35-19 following a baseline jumper by Jeremiah Nason with just under five minutes to play before intermission, but the Panthers never backed down.
Sale Creek had a rally of its own at the end of the quarter and trailed by only 40-32 at intermission.
That eight-point lead stretched to 19 as the Bucs opened the second half on an 11-0 run and the difference was 58-41 when the third period ended.
Austin Walker hit a free throw and two buckets in the lane as Boyd-Buchanan's lead stretched to 22 points with just over minutes to play.
It never got any closer as Parris Clarke's jumper along the baseline in the final minute gave the Buccaneers their biggest lead of the game at the end.
Sale Creek coach David Helton was proud of the effort his kids put forth and he was even more ;proud of the season they had, which included Sale Creek's first regular-season district championship in 29 years.
"The kids played hard, but Boyd-Buchanan executed on offense really well," Helton said after his team's season concluded at 15-11.
"Their offensive transition really hurt us and their defensive pressure completely took us out of our rhythm. They were quicker than we were. We tried to force some things that didn't work, but Boyd-Buchanan has a very good team and they play extremely well together.
"The good news for us is that Logan Burton is our only senior," Helton concluded on a positive note.
Justus McMillan scored 22 points to lead the Bucs while teammates Walker and Zach Jenkins were also in double figures with 15 and 13 points, respectively..
Hall Allen was nursing an injured foot and didn't shoot much, but he still finished with eight points, including a couple of key 3s in the second half.
Burton was tops for Sale Creek with 19 points. Janow followed with 10 and he led the Panthers rebounders with eight. Cody Daniel finished with eight points.
Jenkins had eight rebounds for Boyd-Buchanan as his team won the battle of the boards, 26-17. Walker also claimed five.
Boyd-Buchanan advances to the Region 3-A semifinals on Tuesday night at Sale Creek where they will play CSAS. Silverdale and Grace will meet in the other semifinal..
Sale Creek 13 19 9 12 -- 53
Boyd-Buchanan 26 14 18 18 -- 76
SALE CREEK (53) -- Logan Burton 19, Abbott, Daniel 8, McGhee, Turner, Janow 10, Heard 4, Mobley 4, Lawson, Hooker 2, Lance Burton 6, Adams.
BOYD-BUCHANAN (76) -- Allen 8, Arendale 6, McMillan 22, Cox 6, Covington, Nason 4, Jackson, Walker 15, Jenkins 13, Clarke 2.
3-POINT GOALS: Sale Creek 7 (Logan Burton 3, Janow 2, Lance Burton 2); Boyd-Buchanan 6 (Allen 2, McMillan 4).
(email John Hunt at email@example.com)