By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
McKinney Boyd’s Zach Rubel stepped to the free throw line to shoot his two free throws. With the Broncos leading 53-50 over TABC No. 17-ranked and undefeated Frisco Wakeland, and with just 11 seconds left in the overtime, Rubel could put the game away for good and seal up one of the biggest wins in program history.
After making his first attempt to put Boyd up by four, there was not one Bronco fan, parent, or student who was not on their feet and clapping joyfully Friday night. When Rubel made his second free throw, the celebration inside Bronco Gym was officially underway.
As the final seconds ran off the clock, one of the largest home crowds of the season gave their Bronco players one big round of applause after giving Wakeland its first loss of the season with a 55-50 final score. After shaking hands with the Wolverine players and coaches, Boyd head coach Dean Christian made his way over to the front of the student section and returned the favor to the Bronco faithful by thanking them for their energy and enthusiasm.
“We never had a game like that before,” said Christian. “I thanked them after the game because you have no idea how impactful that is. It almost made me cry, because those guys deserve that. They work so hard and have come so far, and to see that they are finally getting recognition from their peers, it is unbelievable.”
With many alumni back in town from college, the home crowd inside Bronco Gym was one of the loudest that Christian has ever witnessed in his time at Boyd. When the players and coaches met in the locker room after the game, Christian said the players couldn’t get over how incredible their home crowd was.
“They were particularly grateful tonight,” said Christian. “Crowds like that easily gives a team ten points, and we had that kind of crowd tonight.”
As for the game, the Broncos were hoping to even up the season series with the Wolverines at a game apiece. Wakeland had defeated the Broncos 57-48 back on Dec. 1 at the Grapevine Tournament.
After one half of play, Wakeland led the game 24-23 with no team having a lead of larger than four points. The Wolverines had a size advantage with their big men, but Christian said after the game that his team was able to control how much success Wakeland had in the paint because of his team’s ability to force difficult shot attempts.
“We battled and told ourselves that we were going to fight for every inch down there. We wanted to make those guys take tough shots tonight and I think we did that.”
In the third quarter, Boyd’s three-point shots stopped falling and Wakeland began making some transition baskets, and soon the Wolverine lead was 37-29 heading into the final quarter.
Needing some points and defensive stops, the Broncos went on a 14-8 run to start the fourth quarter to cut the Wakeland lead to two points. With a little more than 1:30 left in the regulation, Boyd’s Faisal Mansour hit a three pointer from the top of the key to give the Broncos a 47-46 lead. Mansour finished with a game-high 17 points off the bench for Boyd.
When asked about Mansour’s performance on Friday night, Christian said he likes when Mansour can be the difference maker in the game and not feel like he has to carry so much pressure on him.
“He comes off the bench and gives us a big spark,” said Christian. “We try not to get mesmerized with him and watch him play. We always talk about as coaches of doing our part while he does that, and once we started doing that and not having him feel like he is carrying us, he started to be the one who was pushing us ahead. Instead of being the equalizer he was being the game changer, because everyone started doing their part instead of watching him.”
After Wakeland turned the ball over with 1:08 left in regulation, the Broncos were able to dribble away nearly 35 seconds before calling a timeout. Out of the break, the Wolverines fouled Mansour and sent him to the line for two free throws. He made one of two shots to give Boyd a 48-46 lead, as Wakeland would take the ball and go down the court for the final shot of regulation.
With time ticking away, Wakeland’s Jordan Harris put up a two-point attempt that bounced off the rim and rolled into the hands of Jackson Lamb. Lamb, who had zero points in the game before the possession, put the ball back up off the glass and into the hoop for two points, tying the game up at 48 with eight seconds left. Boyd missed a low percentage game-winning shot and the game was sent to overtime.
In the four-minute overtime quarter, the Broncos outscored Wakeland 7-2, led by Daylon Markham and Rubel who both had three points in the quarter. Markham finished with nine points, while Martez Butler and Rubel each ended the night with eight points.
“We are different this year,” said Christian regarding the state of his team. “We are finally getting to that point we hoped we could be in those tough situations. When adversity comes up we are able to face it and overcome it a lot better now.”
The Broncos are now 11-2 on the season and are less than a month away from the beginning of District 10-5A play. However, Christian knows that this early success doesn’t mean much when his team enters district play. Last season, Boyd was 13-5 entering district and ultimately missed the playoffs.
“After the game the seniors were very vocal and said there was still a lot of work to do. I intentionally scheduled the toughest non-district schedule I could find because I wanted to be ready for district,” said Christian.
“I didn’t want the non-district to give us a false sense of security, and I think these kids are mature enough to understand that it is nice to be 11-2, but they also know that it doesn’t mean a whole lot when we head into district and face those great teams.”
For all of the excitement of the evening, the night began on a somber night when the crowd observed a moment of silence in wake of the tragedy at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.
Boyd will travel to Flower Mound Marcus Tuesday night beginning at 7:30 p.m.