If someone was asked to look at the collection of players on Boyd-Buchanan’s varsity boys’ basketball team and guess what kind of group they were, it might take a while before the person said “a basketball team.”
With only a handful of players taller than 6-foot, and two of those freshmen and another an eighth-grader, the Buccaneers likely won’t frighten anyone in Spencer when they get off the bus Saturday night at Van Buren County High School for their Region 3-A quarterfinal. Their 14-13 record, however, indicates they have earned many teams’ respect.
The 8 p.m. EST game is one of 16 TSSAA Division I boys’ region quarterfinals Saturday involving area teams. Region semifinals and finals will be held at central locations. Region finalists will move on to state sectionals.
Cole Rose is in his third season as the Bucs’ coach. Knowing what he was going to be working with might’ve discouraged another coach, but not him.
“Actually I loved it,” Rose said. “In my case as a player, I didn’t pass the eye test, either. I thrived on that.”
Jesse Sessions is a 6-foot-2 post player for Boyd-Buchanan. Rarely in games does he get matched against anyone who’s not taller than him.
His teammates appreciate his team-high average of five rebounds per game. But beyond that, as the lone senior he has shouldered much of the leadership responsibility.
“I guess it’s just expected,” Sessions said. “I feel like a big brother to all these guys. I just think that’s a role I need to fill. I try to be someone they can come to.”
Although Sessions is the tallest starter, he doesn’t jump center. That duty belongs to sophomore Colby Arendale, or at least has since Jan. 27 when the Bucs handed regular-season and tournament champion Grace Academy its only District 5 loss all season.
Seeing the 5-7 Arendale in the center circle, especially against someone like the Golden Eagles’ tall jumping jack, Corey Nelson, looks amusing. Apparently it can be mesmerizing to opponents.
“We’ve got a better chance of stealing the tip than winning it outright,” Rose said.
And like any true “center,” Arendale is a prideful rebounder, too.
“I try to get all the loose ones,” he said.
Their scoring leader averages 11.7 points per game. That’s 5-8 sophomore Hall Allen, who also leads in assists at 3.6 per game.
Six-foot junior John Hale starts at another of the numerous guard spots, and 6-1 sophomore Jeremiah Nason, who has started some previously, will be moved into the lineup in place of Justus McMillan, who left the team recently for personal reasons.
The real explanation for the Bucs’ winning record can be traced to hustle. They take pride in outworking their opponents.
“Hopefully at the end of the day, the team will be greater than the sum of its parts,” Rose said. “I still think we have room to grow.”
In height, yes. And that could happen in the coming years, since the bulk of the team is in the 10th grade or below.
“It’s hard not to think about that, but right now we’re just getting ready for Saturday’s game,” Allen said. “Then hopefully we’ll have some more games after that.”
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or email@example.com.