Bucs win 9AAA for first time since 2012
Story by Zach Womble
PIc by John Decker
Luke Fleming named Tournament MVP
HENDERSONVILLE – For the first time since 2012, the Beech Buccaneers are tournament champions.
Kip Brown’s crew capped off a District 9-AAA regular season championship Wednesday night with a thrilling 59-51 victory over Green Hill.
The Buccaneers will take the district’s number one seed into Saturday night’s Region 5-AAA quarterfinal round where they will host Henry County from District 10-AAA. The Patriots finished fourth in their tournament after finishing first during the regular season.
“Tonight is a great feeling, and we will enjoy this, but we need to be dialed in once Thursday rolls around,” Beech head coach Kip Brown said. “Every team in this region is really good, so no matter who we are playing, we need to come ready.”
Senior point guard Luke Fleming earned tournament Most Valuable Player honors while Kristian Shaw and Kaleb Powell earned All-Tournament selections as well.
“Luke refused to let us lose tonight,” Brown said. “The competitive spirit that runs through his veins is remarkable. Who would have ever thought he would be the Most Valuable Player of the district tournament with all this talent around him. He took over the game in the second half.”
Fleming finished with a team-high 19 points with 13 of his points coming in the second half, including four clutch free throws and a steal with less than one minute to play. Both teams battled back-and-forth throughout the first half as neither squad led by more than six points.
As the third quarter started, Green Hill raced out to a to a 5-0 run for their biggest lead of the of the game, four, 30-26.
After trading baskets, Brown elected to call a timeout with 2:38 remaining in the third frame. “We came out in that third quarter and were not moving well offensively,” he said. “We got stagnate, so I just told em lets have fun, be more aggressive on the defensive end and move the ball.”
Green Hill clung to a 39-37 lead after 24 minutes thanks in large part to Paxton Davidson’s back-to-back 3-pointers, but the Bucs never went away. Tied at 39, Beech got a stop on the defensive end before Kristian Shaw found himself open for three for the 42-39 advantage, the Bucs’ first lead since the second quarter.
Another defensive stop coupled with a Shaw 3-pointer with 5:41 remaining gave Beech all the momentum, forcing Green Hill to call a timeout.
“Those 3-pointers were huge,” Brown said. “He never loses confidence in his shot. He has the green light, and maybe there were one or two he shouldn’t have taken, but when you shoot as well as he does, you live with that. No one talks about his defense, but we put him on the other team’s best player most nights and he does as good of a job on that end of the floor as he does offensively.”
Momentum exploded in favor of the Buccaneers following a Green Hill timeout as Andrew Paige slammed home back-to-back possessions, followed by a huge block at the rim with 2:28 remaining as Beech extended their lead to 10, 53-43.
From that point, Bradley Wheeler and Luke Fleming knocked six consecutive free throws to seal the victory. “Andrew is as good as anyone in this district,” Brown said of the junior’s momentous dunks. “He controls the game whether he scores or not, and when he scores he is the best player in the district. He should have gotten all-tournament tonight, but we have four really good players that should always be all-tournament. Andrew is so easy to coach not only because of his talent, but his unselfishness.”
Beech (23-7) will host Henry County (18-5) Saturday night at 7 p.m. and Green Hill (15-8) will host Clarksville (16-5).
“Just so proud of our guys the way we played tonight,” Green Hill head coach Troy Allen said. “We did not play well the last time we were here; we didn’t compete the way our program competes. I thought we executed versus their press, just proud of how we have played all week. I think we became a program this week.”
Boys All District
Kristian Shaw, Andrew Paige, Luke Fleming, Paxton Davidson, Jason Burch, Yarin Alexander, Jarrerd Hall, Osize Daniyan, Eli Rice, Kheller Die’, Cade Martin, Alder Kerr, Zack Markus MVP: Riggs Abner
Coach of the Year: Jim McDowell, Lebanon
Beech (59): Luke Fleming 19, Kristian Shaw 16, Kaleb Powell 9, Andrew Paige 7, Jackson Long 6, Bradley Wheeler 2
Green Hill (51): Paxton Davidson 21, Riggs Abner 14, Mo Rottlen 12, Blake Stacey 4