By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
As the clock struck three zeroes and the buzzer went off, there was not one person at Bronco Gym that was not standing on their feet in complete awe Friday night. When it comes to high school basketball games, you would be hard pressed to find one better than Friday night’s crosstown matchup between Boyd and McKinney High.
The Lions came out on top 63-60 versus the Broncos in what both coaches called a “desperation” game, as both teams entered the evening with 0-2 records in District 10-5A. McKinney improved to 1-2 in 10-5A and 16-7 overall, while Boyd dropped to 0-3 in 10-5A and 16-6 overall.
With a little more than three minutes remaining in the game, the Broncos led 56-50 and appeared to have enough to hold off the feisty Lions. But two Boyd turnovers and some good transition offense led to six quick points for the Lions to tie the game at 56-56, capped off by Connor Fuentes’ fast break layup.
Not to be held down for long, the Broncos came back with layups by Michael Grant and Taber McFadden to grab a 60-56 lead with 2:21 left in the fourth quarter. After a Broncos timeout, the Lions scored on a layup by Jontrell Rocquemore to cut the Boyd lead to two.
On the following possession, the Broncos turned the ball over to the Lions with 1:21 left, before Boyd’s Mikel Parish fouled McKinney’s Remington Edwards to send him to the line for the potential game-tying free throws. Edwards hit both attempts to score two of his 17 points, and tied the game at 60-60 with 1:10 left.
Unable to get any quality possession, Boyd turned the ball over with a little over a minute left. McKinney drove back down the court and settled for a Raynell Denny jumper than came up just short, and the Broncos grabbed the rebound to regain possession.
But after a Parish missed jumper that would have given the Broncos the lead with less than 15 seconds left, the Lions came up with the rebound and found a wide open Fuentes at half court, who scored on a fast break layup to put McKinney up 62-60 with 12 seconds remaining.
“I know there is a lot of screaming and stuff, but you block it out and don’t let it affect you. I just needed to make a play,” said Fuentes following the game.
The Broncos had a chance to tie the game when Grant went to the free throw line to shoot the one-and-one, but he missed the first attempt and the Lions got the defensive rebound. Red Shannon, who finished with a game-high 20 points for McKinney, made one of two free throws to make it a 63-60 game with seven second remaining.
Boyd had one last ditch effort as Parish dribbled up the court and threw up a prayer from half court that came up well short, sealing an important victory for the visiting Lions and sinking the Broncos into a deep district hole.
“We really needed it,” said Fuentes, who finished with 16 points in the win. “We knew that it was going to come down to the end because they are a great team. We just had to be mentally tougher throughout the whole game to pull out the win. Everyone played great tonight. I’m real proud of everyone.”
While it may have been at McKinney Boyd, the visiting McKinney High crowd made their presence known all night long, capping off their evening by rushing the court and celebrating on the Bronco logo at half-court in front of a stunned Bronco student section.
“It’s the absolute best,” said Fuentes about the playoff-like atmosphere. “There is nothing like it. Two great teams who are crosstown rivals make this a lot of fun.”
In a game with 12 lead changes, six ties, and both teams having their largest lead be seven points, it was only natural that McKinney head coach Wes Watson was a little lost for words following his team’s win.
“I don’t even know what to say right now. I’m just thrilled for our kids and our school right now,” said Watson. “Both teams came into this game in a position neither one thought we were going to be in, but we had two really good and really desperate teams looking for the first district win and trying to build a little bit of momentum. There weren’t any huge runs in the game but it was just which team made the last mini run in the game, and we were fortunate that it was us tonight.”
Despite the loss, the Broncos had a big night from several key players with Grant, Martez Butler, and Parish all finishing in double figures in scoring. Grant finished with 13 points while Butler had 12 points and Parish ended the night with 11.
After the game, Watson said that Boyd had a pretty good plan of attacking Denny with Butler down in the paint, something that worked well when the Broncos went into their half-court offense.
“He’s a load,” said Watson. “They had a pretty good plan tonight. They were going right at Raynell tonight with Butler, and Butler is the kind of kid that if you allow them to get into a half court set, they just went right at us and put Raynell in a tough spot. I think he even hit a big three for them tonight too.”
Denny, who is averaging nine points per game in district play, was held scoreless in the game versus Boyd. The 6-foot-5-inch senior found himself in early foul trouble in the second quarter, causing Watson to make a gutsy call early in the ballgame.
“We kind of rolled the dice in the second quarter when Raynell got his second foul by keeping him on the bench,” said Watson. “We had the lead and kept thinking as long as we have a lead, let’s just let him sit and not pick up his third foul before the half. But when they took the lead and it was so deep in the half we wondered if we should put him in now, and it was just a tough call. We might have made the wrong call because if he had gotten his third foul before halftime I would have felt pretty stupid.”
While the meeting between these two rivals was the first of the two district meetings, it was the second matchup this season at Boyd between the teams. Back on Dec. 29, the two squads met in the championship game of the OrthoTexas Invitational, with the Broncos winning 71-66 over the Lions.
When asked if there was any game planning based on that game less than a month ago, Watson said they prepared to guard against a few things that they saw last month.
“There were some things we wanted to do differently. We wanted to guard against them in the half court, and honestly we didn’t do a good job. They did some things that we didn’t totally expect either, and some of the things we were trying to take away they didn’t go to as much as before.”
The one thing Watson said before the game was that he wanted his team to improve from the free throw line in this game versus the Broncos, since the Lions missed 20 free throws in their previous matchup. In this game McKinney shot 57% from the charity stripe while Boyd shot an even 50%.
“We still aren’t where we want to be but we are getting better,” said Watson.
In the first quarter the Broncos jumped out to an 8-1 lead, forcing Watson to call a timeout with a little over five minutes remaining in the quarter. After the break the Lions finished the quarter on a 13-3 run to take a 14-11 lead into the second quarter.
After falling behind 20-14, the Broncos stormed back with a 12-0 run led by Grant and Parish to take a 26-20 lead. Despite four points from Shannon to end the quarter, Boyd held a 29-26 advantage heading into the locker room.
“We just didn’t pick up the intensity enough in the first half,” said Fuentes, regarding his team’s slow start. “We got together at halftime, talked about what we needed to do, and just picked up the intensity as a team.”
The two teams traded the lead back and forth in the third quarter, as a Fuentes free throw would tie the game at 43-43 with 2:15 remaining in the third. Boyd would finish the quarter strong with jumpers from Zach Rubel, who finished with four points, and Parish to lead 47-43 heading to the final quarter.
With the win, McKinney is in sole possession of fourth place and one game behind Plano West for third place. Despite the rough 0-2 start to the 10-5A campaign, Fuentes said that he felt his team needed one win to really get this thing going.
“We just needed to get one under our belt. I felt like we are going to start winning a lot of district games soon, so we just needed to get this first one in and we can start getting on a roll.”
After the game, Watson had a statement to make to everyone who has not been attending basketball games in McKinney this winter.
“There is some really good basketball in this town. All three schools are playing well and we have three really good basketball programs in this town. The people who aren’t coming out to see these games are missing out,” said Watson.
McKinney will return home to face Plano (0-3) on Tuesday night, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Boyd, who has fallen to a fifth place tie with Plano at 0-3, will travel to Plano West (2-1) on Tuesday night, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Photos courtesy of Jennifer Santos. For more photos, or to purchase photos, please visit her website.