HENDERSONVILLE - The Beech Buccaneers overcame a hot start by the visiting Lebanon Blue Devils on Tuesday to claim a 70-67 comeback win in District 9-AAA action.
The two teams entered the game a three-way tie with Station Camp for second place in the district standings. Beech’s win and Station Camp’s upset of Mt. Juliet leave those two teams in second with one district game to go.
Beech travels to Hendersonville on Friday, and a win there will secure second place because the Bucs swept Station Camp in their district games earlier in the season.
“We’ve got to go get it,” Beech Coach Kip Brown said of his team’s task on Friday.
“We’ve still got one big game at Hendersonville,” said junior point guard Luke Fleming, who hit three 3-pointers down the stretch to crucial Beech’s comeback against Lebanon. “We’ve got to win and keep this momentum going into the district tournament.”
On Tuesday, Lebanon grabbed the momentum early with some hot shooting. The Blue Devils hit eight of 12 shots in the first quarter to take a 20-13 lead.
The performance left Brown thinking, “We’ve got to score with them and find a way to start getting some stops at some point in the game.”
“They’ve got outstanding players,” Brown said of Lebanon. “They’ve got good size, good shooters, good skills.”
Lebanon continued it’s hot shooting in the second quarter, hitting six of their first seven shots to lead 36-28. But the Blue Devils missed their last five shots of the quarter, while Beech went on a 6-0 run to whittle Lebanon’s lead to 36-34 at halftime.
The Bucs were trailing 36-32 with 00.9 seconds left in the quarter when Fleming, standing under Lebanon’s basket, toss a long baseball pass to sophomore Drew Paige who got the ball and flipped it into the basket in one motion as the buzzer sounded.
“Closing it to two at halftime was big,” Brown said. “We did a good job being down only two as well as they shot the ball.”
In the third quarter, Lebanon stretched its lead to as much as nine points and finished the quarter on top 53-46.
Fleming started the fourth quarter by hitting two 3-pointers, and his third 3-pointer of the quarter cut Lebanon’s lead to 61-60. The Bucs finally took their first lead of the game at 64-63 with 2:30 left on a basket by Paige.
With 07.7 seconds left, Fleming sealed the win by hitting two free throws to give Beech a 70-67 lead. Two more attempts at 3-pointers by Lebanon were off the mark to end the game.
“A lot of guys made big plays in the fourth quarter, but luke Fleming hit three big 3s,” said Brown, who also noted that Fleming was guarding Lebanon’s best outside shooter, Gaven Reasonover, down the stretch.
“I was just feeling it,” Fleming said. “They went to a zone defense. They weren’t pressing me. I just kept throwing it up there.”
Fleming scored 13 points for the game. Others in double figures for the Bucs were Jyquale Matthews with 11, Kaleb Powell with 17, and Paige with 21.
“Drew’s a force,” Brown said of Paige, his sophomore post player. “He’s an explosive player and a smart player.”
Lebanon was led in scoring by Kobe Tibbs with 21, Reasonover with 15, and Jamar Kynard with 10. With the loss, Lebanon’s record now stands at 18-9 and 7-6 in the district. The Blue Devils travel to Portland Friday for their final game of the regular season.
Beech’s record improved to 18-10 and 8-5 in district play.
Boys Box Score
Beech (70) Drew Paige 21, Kaleb Powell 17, Luke Fleming 13, Jyquale Matthews 11, Kristian Shaw 6, Jackson Long 2.
Lebanon (67) Kobe Tibbs 21, Gaven Reasonver 15, Jamar Kynard 10, David Greene 6, Alex Fite 5, DeQuantay Shannon 4, Jackson Painter 3, Jarred Hall 3.