An offensive surge supplied the lift the Brentwood Academy Eagles needed to win over the Christian Brothers Purple Wave at Tennessee Tech on Friday night in the D-II AA boys state semifinal, 69-61.
“It means a lot to be back in the state championship again after missing it last year,” said BA head coach Matt Hoppe. “Our guys are excited to compete for a state championship. We have one more game to play.”
In the first quarter, Christian Brothers got out to an early lead, 16-8, with 3-pointers and layups by junior Chandler Jackson, Elijah Federman, senior Harrison Kelly and senior Reese McMullen.
The Eagles mounted a comeback in the second quarter with points in the paint and behind the arc baskets by senior Caleb Brooks, senior Eli Sutton, junior Trent McNair, sophomore Athan Pohlman and junior Drey Moss to inch ahead at halftime, 26-25.
Brentwood Academy was able to maintain their lead in the third quarter 45-41 with jumpers and long-range shots by freshman Tyler Tanner, junior DJ Senter, Brooks and McNair.
In the fourth quarter, BA achieved a little separation with timely 3s and free throws by Pohlman, Tanner, Senter and Moss to win the contest, 69-61.
Brentwood Academy made key stops to hold the Purple Wave to 61 points.
“Defensively we locked in a little more and keyed on what they (Christian Brothers) were trying to do,” said Coach Hoppe. “We knew Chandler Jackson, their best player, was difficult to defend. I thought we did a good job on him, even though he scored a ton of buckets in the second half. We tried to push the pace, because they did not have a lot of depth. We forced them to go up and down, and I think that hurt them in the end.”
Christian Brothers leading scorers were Jackson with 24 points, Kelly with 16, and Colin Scifres with 12.
Brentwood Academy’s point leaders were Tanner with 22 points, McNair with 14, and Caleb Brooks with 11.
“Our team worked to get those guys good shots,” said Coach Hoppe. “When they had their shots, they knocked them down, especially in the second half.
“Offensively I was impressed with the way Tyler (Tanner) played as a freshman. He stepped up in a big game and hit some huge threes. At the end, he hit some free throws for us to seal the win.”
With this loss, Christian Brothers season comes to a close.
BA will face region rival Montgomery Bell Academy in the state championship Saturday night.
“It will be an extremely difficult test,” said Coach Hoppe. “They (MBA) are really good and well coached. We know them really well. They know us really well.
“I am just happy and proud that our Middle Region has both teams in the championship. I think it speaks to how hard our league is and the tests we have to go through, night in and night out. It is going to be a tough physical game and should be a fun matchup for the fans to watch.”