Boyd-Buchanan didn't have it all the way Friday in its boys' semifinal in the Times Free Press Best of Preps basketball tournament. The Buccaneers just wouldn't go away.
Trailing Ooltewah most of the game, the Bucs hung around enough to make a late second-half push, and it was some kind of push that carried them past the Owls, 59-51.
Boyd-Buchanan (12-0) plays Tyner for the boys' championship tonight at 8:30. Ooltewah (7-4) faces Notre Dame in the third-place game at 5:30.
The Bucs never led in the first half. And when Q.D. Cox hit a deep 3-point shot from the left wing at the halftime horn to make it 27-27, it marked only the second time the game was tied (the other was at 4).
"We had a real slow start," Boyd-Buchanan coach Cole Rose said. "Give them a lot of credit. They hit some shots with a pretty high degree of difficulty. But our kids have a lot of faith in what we're doing. They didn't hang their heads because what we were doing was not working, and everything came out well in the end."
It was tied again at 29 early in the third before Ooltewah went on a 16-6 surge and led 45-35 when Jarek Boyd made one of two free throws at the 1:39 mark.
That's when the comeback started.
Boyd made a rebound basket with 4:34 to play that put the Owls up 50-47, but that would be their last field goal. The only point they had afterward was a free throw by C.J. Fritz with 11.3 seconds left for the final margin.
The Bucs' 24-6 closing run included 14-of-18 free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter.
"If we're going to play defensive close games, and apparently we are," Rose said, "we are going to have to hit those."
Boyd-Buchanan was 24-for-31 overall from the line, while the Owls were 8-for-20.
"We didn't guard in the fourth quarter," Ooltewah coach Tank Montgomery said. "We came out and played a little bit in the third quarter and got a lead. Then we missed a bunch of layups, missed a bunch of free throws, and I saw that our body language was terrible."
Montgomery said that negative began carrying over to the defensive side.
"Scoring is not our issue," he said. "Defense is just toughness. They were scrappy. They kept fighting. They didn't pout about it. The fourth quarter we got stagnant, and then everything just went south."
Justus McMillan topped the Bucs with 17 points and Austin Walker added 13. Cox and Hall Allen chipped in with 11 apiece.
Fritz paced the Owls with 19 points and Ben Snider contributed 15, but the last field goal for both was around the midway point of the third quarter.
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.