With the season literally on the line, Boyd-Buchanan couldn't have asked for a better player to put there.
Hall Allen stepped to the foul line Tuesday night at Sale Creek with a tie score and 2.9 seconds remaining in the Region 3-A boys' basketball semifinal. The junior delivered with two shots that not only gave his team a thrilling 56-54 victory over Arts & Sciences, but also put the Bucs within one win of the state tournament.
Boyd-Buchanan advances to Thursday night's region championship game against Grace Academy, which defeated Silverdale Baptist 53-44 in Tuesday's other semifinal, as well as to next week's state sectionals.
"Coach told me go out and shoot just like it was practice," Allen said after accepting high-fives from classmates when he emerged from the locker room. "I'm still in shock. That was huge. That was a win-or-go-home game, and I think that win gave us a lot of confidence. I think our team grew up today."
Allen's foul shots capped off a wild fourth quarter that saw the Bucs go from a 10-point deficit to a one-point lead in a span of 2:39. Boyd-Buchanan led 54-50 with 1:05 remaining before back-to-back baskets by the Patriots' Nick Moore tied it with 42.9 seconds on the clock.
After the Bucs' missed 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, the Patriots grabbed the rebound but were called for an offensive foul on the other end. Boyd-Buchanan sent in an inbounds pass with 7.4 ticks on the clock, and Allen was bumped with 2.9 left.
After a series of discussions about the number of fouls, it was determined that the Bucs were, in fact, in the bonus, and Allen headed to the stripe for the one-and-one. In the midst of a building frenzy from the Boyd-Buchanan fans, he calmly sank them both.
"Hall is definitely the guy we would've picked to take those," Bucs coach Cole Rose said. "And he stepped up and knocked them down."
The Patriots had raced to a 17-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Bucs fought their way back with a 15-2 run to start the second period. CSAS regained the lead at 24-22 on a 3-pointer from Chaison Gordon, who sank another in the final seconds to send his team into halftime with a 30-24 advantage.
"I think our kids were nervous," Rose said. "I think they've been nervous since the (quarterfinal) ended on Saturday. We tried to be loose the past couple of days in practice, but the bus ride over here was pretty silent. CSAS has a culture where they expect to be here, and we're trying to build that, but this is something the kids haven't done before. I think it took them most of the game to really believe in themselves."
Allen erased his team's halftime deficit with back-to-back 3s to open the second half, but the Patriots responded and extended their lead to 45-38 at the end of the third. After a 3 from Brandon Houston gave CSAS a 50-40 advantage with 5:04 to play, the Patriots appeared to be in control.
Instead, Boyd-Buchanan began its impressive run toward the region final. Austin Walker started it with a basket followed by a 3, and Allen put the Bucs ahead for good when he drove an open lane with 2:25 remaining to put his team up 51-50.
"It was insane, especially when it came down to the fourth quarter and we were down 10," Allen said. "I thought we might lose hope, but we pulled through. Coach told us the game wasn't over, and we have so much faith in him and what he does, so we just listened to him. Then we got a steal, a layup and two straight buckets and that kind of turned the game around."
Walker finished with a team-high 17 points for the Bucs, while Allen finished with 15 and Justus McMillan and Jeremiah Nason contributed 11 apiece. The victory improves Boyd-Buchanan's record to 24-7, and puts the Bucs in the region final for the first time in more than a decade.
Grace Academy 53, Silverdale Baptist 44:
The Golden Eagles opened up a 13-9 advantage at the end of the first quarter of their semifinal, but found themselves trailing 19-18 after Ben Strawn scored for Silverdale with 1:40 remaining in the second.
Grace responded with four straight points from senior Austin Powell, who then challenged his team in the locker room to come out strong for the second half.
"We felt like Silverdale would come out really strong for the second half, so we wanted to meet their level of intensity," Grace coach Jon Mattheiss said. "Right before we walked out, Austin challenged the whole team. He said the first three minutes are going to determine the rest of this ballgame, and evidently they were listening."
The Golden Eagles (12-14) extended their 23-19 halftime lead to 39-23 at the end of the third after limiting the Seahawks to four points in the period. Despite a 21-point fourth quarter for Silverdale, Grace finished out the 53-44 victory and will attempt to defend its region title on Thursday against Boyd-Buchanan.
Both region finalists are guaranteed a spot in next Monday's Class A state sectionals. The region champion will host, while the runner-up will travel to play for a spot in the state tournament.
"We've talked about this since the beginning of the season," Mattheiss said. "We said our whole goal was to get to the region championship game. Once you get there, you have the substate in front of you, and from there, everybody has one shot to get to the state tournament. That's the goal we set in front of them."
Blake Savard led Grace with 15 points, while Powell finished with 11 and Spencer Mossburg totaled 13 for Silverdale.
(E-mail Jaime Barrett at email@example.com
Region 3-A semifinals
At Sale Creek
BOYD- BUCHANAN 56, ARTS & SCIENCES 54
CSAS 17 13 15 9 -- 54
Boyd-Buchanan 6 18 14 18 -- 56
CSAS (54) -- Moorer 3, O'Hara, Woods, Brown, Carter, Taylor 2, Chaison Gordon 18, Davenport 6, Houston 6, Nick Moore 19.
Boyd-Buchanan (56) -- Hall Allen 15, Arendale, Justus McMillan 11, Cox, Jeremiah Nason 11, Austin Walker 17, Jenkins 2, Clarke.
3-point goals: CSAS 7 (Gordon 3, Houston 2, Moorer); Boyd-Buchanan 5 (Allen 3, McMillan, Walker).
GRACE ACADEMY 53, SILVERDALE BAPTIST 44
Silverdale 9 10 4 21 -- 44
Grace 13 10 16 14 -- 53
Silverdale (44) -- Delashmitt 7, Strawn 4, Keylon, Spencer Mossburg 13, Clements 7, Dye 5, Hall 6, Marshall 2, Sanders.
Grace (53) -- Slack 5, Hughes, Swanson, Hernandez 8, Smith 8, Blake Savard 15, Tisdale, Godsey 1, McQueen 5, Matheny, Mason, Austin Powell 11, Cooke.
3-point goals: Grace 2 (Smith, McQueen); Silverdale 2 (Delashmitt, Mossburg).