By Steven Watkins
For the Forsyth County News
It didn’t necessarily go the way that it was drawn up.
With just over 17 seconds remaining in Friday night’s first round of the Class 1A Private playoffs, Pinecrest Academy found itself both with possession and with a chance to steal a win from visiting Tallulah Falls, which spent the majority of the contest atop the scoreboard.
High effort, tight defense and a resurgent second half put the Paladins back into contention on a night where the bulk of the shots— 3-pointers in particular — just could not seem to find the net.
Yet tied at 58, and with 17 seconds and a single point separating the two squads from either advancing or from an end-of-season banquet, Pinecrest senior and team captain Josh Boeye found himself just outside the paint with his team’s season in his hands.
Despite having missed a number of threes on the night, Boeye dribbled, set and shot a final 3-point attempt at the buzzer that went in and gave the Paladins a 61-58 win.
“We came out and we set a staggered double-ball screen,” Pinecrest head coach John Bauersfeld said following his team’s last-second tournament win. “They contained pretty well, but I think Josh had a look earlier, but he just wanted to make sure we had the last shot.”
Pinecrest will face Providence Christian (24-2) next week in the second round of the Class 1A Private playoffs.
Boeye’s buzzer-beater was possible thanks to an 11-point, second-half run by the Paladins, who — despite shooting under 50 percent on the night — maintained their familiarly stiff defense throughout the evening while sinking the occasional, crucial shot to keep the offense alive.
“Like I told him after the game — from a basketball purist standpoint, it’s not the greatest shot right after the timeout, but players make plays.”
Pinecrest players making plays not only provided Boeye with his buzzer-beating opportunity, but also kept the Paladin squad alive on a night where they could easily have been overwhelmed by a sharp-shooting Indians squad.
“Overall it was a long, tough game,” Boeye said. “I give due credit to them. They came out with a great gameplan that slowed the game down, and we weren’t making our shots, but we just stuck with it.”
After a first quarter that saw the Paladins blend a healthy mix of ball movement within the paint with initially successful outside shooting, an early 14-12 Pinecrest lead evaporated when the visiting Indians settled in and began sinking shots of their own. The Indians finished the half with a 31-25 lead.
Tallulah Falls continued their run into the beginning of the third quarter, thanks partly to Pinecrest’s inability to provide an answer to Indians senior Matthew Weidner, who finished with a 21 points and served as both a constant thorn in the side of the Pinecrest defense and an easy put-back following any Indian shot that failed to find net.
“He’s a tough cover,” Bauersfeld said of Weidner. “He’s very strong, carves out position very well and he’s kind of a throwback. There’s not a lot of guys that we play during the year that play like him. I knew when we went man that he was going to be a problem for us.”
The Paladins responded with a run of their own — pressing, clawing and willing their way back to within a single point midway through the final quarter, finally tying it at 58 on a long three from Caleb Bohn with 3:15 remaining.
Bohn lead the Paladins with 22 points.
“I think that’s a hallmark of a good team,” Bauersfeld said. “I told our captains Josh, Hank (Lynch) and Caleb that their play is what willed us to that win. They basically made their minds up and said that we’re not going to lose this game.”