Brentwood Academy’s Ed Wilks (3) kisses the trophy as he walks off the court after their win against Christian Brothers in the Tennessee Division II AA boys high school basketball championship game Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
It appeared as though Brentwood Academy’s inexperience had finally caught up to it in Saturday’s Division II Class AA championship game at Lipscomb’s Allen Arena.
In the game’s final 10 minutes, the Eagles proved otherwise.
“I really don’t know how we won that game,” Brentwood Academy coach Hubie Smith said after his team’s 58-55, come-from-behind victory over previously unbeaten Christian Brothers. “It was like a daze for me.”
The Eagles (28-2), who faced a 17-point deficit with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter, pulled off the improbable comeback with lights-out shooting — they knocked down 54 percent from the field in the final two quarters, including four second-half 3-pointers — along with suffocating pressure defense that was responsible for 12 second-half turnovers.
“In the first half we played very selfish, and it didn’t get us anywhere,” Brentwood Academy sophomore Jeremiah Oatsvall said. “At halftime Coach Hubie said that if we want to turn this thing around, we’ve got to start playing as a team, playing as brothers just like we did all season long. Great things happen when you listen to your coach and play as a team.”
Saturday’s win marks Brentwood Academy’s first state championship since 2006.
“I got a text from Brandan Wright on the way over here,” Smith said. “He said, ‘Let’s start it again.’ I told our kids that and they got a kick out of it, him paying attention to what his school is doing. It’s still his school to him, and he loves it.”
The Wright-led Eagles won four straight state championships from 2002-06.
Brentwood Academy freshman Cam Johnson’s layup at the three-minute mark knotted the score at 48, and, minutes later, freshman Darius Garland buried a contested trey to spot the Eagles a one-point edge — their first since the opening stages of the second quarter.
“It was great to have the crowd behind us the whole game no matter how much we got down,” said Johnson, who finished with eight points and five boards. “It helped us stay in the game, especially when we got the momentum going. “
Brentwood Academy, which outscored the Purple Wave 26-13 in the fourth quarter, actually increased their lead to 57-52 in the final minute, but a 3-pointer from Christian Brothers’ J.J. Reisedge kept things interesting until the final whistle.
Garland finished with 12 points and three assists for the Eagles.
“For two and a half quarters we were really bad,” Smith said. “Then, somehow a light switch turned on. Our kids are winners, and they just stepped up and played like they were seniors. … A team that’s 29-0 and experienced with winning close games, and for us to come back and win, it’s just unbelievable to me that we were able to do that.
“The good thing is I’m going to be able to have them for a while.”
Shunterio Alexander and William Douglas each finished with 13 points to lead Christian Brothers (29-1), while Undra Wilson added nine points in the losing effort.
Reach Michael Murphy at 259-8018 and on Twitter @Murph_TNsports.