Would you believe Ace Bailey is only a freshman? One wouldn’t have thought it possible when watching him in the second quarter of Boyd Buchanan’s 69-41 home playoff win over Silverdale Academy. First came the steal, which led to him dribbling the length of the floor before extending his 6’8 frame for a two-handed dunk in the open court.
The crowd exploded………..and then got even louder on the very next play.
He grabbed the ball and swiftly dribbled down the left sideline. Obviously in the mood to show off his guard skills, he whipped the ball from side to side and froze his defender before connecting on an un-guardable three point bomb that made it impossible to hear one’s self think in Boyd’s gymnasium. The score read 35-12 and the freshman’s stellar two-way play took the playoff game from a lopsided one to a blowout.
“He’s a special talent. You can’t teach a kid to have that much length and the skills that come with it,” Boyd Buchanan coach Josh Templeton said. “His ankle’s bothering him a little bit, but that’s slowing him down and almost seems to be making him be more under control and effective.”
Bailey may have announced the blowout, but sophomore point guard Caden Johnson laid its foundations with his stellar play, which started on the first possession when he stared down his defender and nailed a triple from the right wing. After Silverdale’s Brett Wright used postups and soft floaters to score six of his 17 points in rapid succession, Johnson and senior John Craw took control of the game.
Craw was the unfortunate victim of Wright’s postup, but he immediately came back with a vengeful triple from the right corner (remember that locational detail for later). Then Johnson stole the ball, ran downcourt, and connected on the righty layup while getting fouled. When Silverdale tried to regroup, he grabbed the board after their miss, pushed the pace, got into the paint, and whipped a pass back to the top of the arc for an open Ryan Lopez three.
“Even if I’m not scoring, I’m going to facilitate and find my teammates,” Johnson said. “I don’t always have to score to help the team win.”
After the Seahawks got a quick five points back on a Wright pullup and an Owen Neal layup in traffic, Johnson ended the quarter with flair. He drove into the heart of Silverdale’s paint, took the contact and remained unfazed, and then stuck home a buzzer-beating floating midranger after shrugging off this borderline-foul as his defender was knocked back.
“That boy lives in the weight room, and he’s a great football player as well and he’s getting looks from colleges,” coach Templeton said. “He averages six and a half rebounds too, so he goes and get them around the rim which is crazy.”
Senior Luke Stum started the second quarter with a drive and a strange but effective two-handed scoop shot that somehow did not get blocked. And then Caden Johnson flashed more of his football strength by spinning and scoring for a short jumper, and then taking it right at the Seahawks for a layup high off the glass. After Bailey’s dunk and triple, Karson Gay put home an and-one layup for two of his five points. But his true value came on defense, where Gay was often the one who deterred Wright and Neal from trying interior shots.
“Karson on defense, he’s just huge,” Johnson said. “He takes up a ton of space and is so strong.”
Pivot Jacob Shockley is very lefthand dominant, but he’s completely dominant against any defense that allows him to get inside position. He started the third quarter with a lefty layup after establishing deep position before the catch. Facing an enormous deficit, Silverdale’s coach Slater Belew threw out an inventive trap in an attempt to catch his adversary off-guard.
To his credit, the Buccaneers had some difficulty adjusting to it at first, and Wright, Neal, and sharpshooter Bryson Cline all got baskets after they effectively doubled the ball and forced wayward passes or shaky dribbles. It took a timeout for the Buccaneers to figure out the scheme.
“We haven’t seen a one-guard front halfcourt trap this season,” coach Templeton said. “They’re so young and they hadn’t seen it in games or practices, so I just needed to draw it up and make sure we were in the right spots and communicating.”
Craw put an end to any hopes of a rally when he relocated to his favorite right corner and buried the triple after Boyd Buchanan was able to break the press. On Boyd’s last shot of the quarter, Craw stood in that exact same spot and flung it home in front of a raucous student section. And you know what, just for good measure he opened the fourth and final quarter by nailing one more three from that exact same spot.
The rest of the game was played without incident, with the most notable occurrence being Brett Carlton hitting two deep threes and making one layup in quick succession to make sure that even in “garbage time”, the Boyd Buchanan crowd was entertained. With Notre Dame defeating Knox Webb in their semifinal matchup, the table is now set for a rematch of last week’s championship final.
“This one might be in a back alley, not an arena,” coach Templeton said. “They’re going to want a big piece of us, and we’re going to say grab ahold and swing.”
“Oh yeah for sure, we expect a war on Saturday,” Johnson said. “That’s what we want.”
That game takes place on Saturday.
SILVERDALE 9 6 14 12 - 41
BOYD BUCHANAN 20 20 14 14 - 69
SILVERDALE (41) - Neal 6, Cline 7, Rickard 1, Gibson 1, Brett Wright 17, Bambrey 3, McGhee 4, Holland 2
BOYD BUCHANAN (69) - Caden Johnson 17, Lopez 3, Bailey 9, Gay 5, Jones 3, John Craw 12, Carlton 8, Stum 4, Shockley 8
3-POINT GOALS: Silverdale 2 (Cline, Neal); Boyd Buchanan 11 (Craw 4, Johnson 2, Carlton 2, Lopez, Bailey, Jones)
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