The race on the boys' side in District 5-A got a little tighter after Arts & Sciences and Grace Academy slugged it out in high school basketball Friday night at CSAS. But for all the physical play, only the Patriots at 12-for-23 were able to take advantage from the free-throw line.
The Golden Eagles were 6-of-21 from the line, which proved to be costly as the Patriots won 60-56.
CSAS (8-7), Grace (7-7) and Boyd-Buchanan now each has one loss in the league, although the Patriots currently sit in first place with three district victories to the Golden Eagles' and Buccaneers' two each.
Elijah Davenport's field goal with 25.6 seconds to play broke a tie at 55, and although he failed to complete a three-point play, the Patriots' 5-for-9 shooting from the line in the final 53.5 seconds proved to be good enough.
"They hit their free throws," Grace coach Jon Mattheiss said. "I know we missed a lot of free throws. In a game that's tight like that and when the game is on the line, you've got to make free throws."
The team-foul situation favored the host Patriots late in the game. They had two fouls to give without putting the Golden Eagles on the line, which they used at 5.9 and 4.6 seconds.
"It ended up that way because we didn't play defense in the third quarter," CSAS coach Mark Dragoo said. "I guess that's what that was."
After the latter, Grace inbounded and Austin Powell missed an off-balance 3-point shot from the left wing that would've provided the lead. The Patriots' Nick Moore was fouled afterward and clinched it with two free throws with 0.6 second remaining.
"We just pulled it off," Dragoo said. "We're not playing real well right now, and we haven't been for a while. We started playing defense a little better toward the end of the game."
The Patriots trailed by three points after one quarter but raised their level of play for most of the second and went out to a 33-20 lead. The Golden Eagles' comeback began when they scored the last five points of the first half, and then they outscored CSAS 16-8 in the third quarter and it was tied at 41 going to the fourth.
"It was a great ballgame," Mattheiss said. "In a sense it was like a heavyweight fight. They went on a little run. Then we went on a little run. It was like 'Here we go,' but then again it was 'Here they go.'"
Chaison Gordon led CSAS with 16 points -- nine coming in the second quarter. Moore scored nine of his 11 points in the final 4:01.
"The second quarter we defended and rebounded well and dictated that quarter," Dragoo said. "The third quarter we didn't. The fourth was just back and forth."
Point guard Patrick Taylor slipped and went down with a leg injury at 7:03 of the third quarter. Dragoo praised the work by Brandon Houston and Shunn Moorer sharing the point-guard duties the rest of the way.
Josh Smith topped Grace with 15 points. Powell finished with 13 and Blake Savard scored 11.
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.