- STORY BY CHIP CIRILLO | PHOTOS BY ANDY COLLIGNON
There must be a cursed spot on the Brentwood Academy basketball court way behind the top of the key.
For the second straight year, Baylor buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer from nearly the same spot to beat the Eagles.
Beyuan Hendricks was the villain in BA’s 54-51 loss Friday night and Patrick Urey sunk the dagger last year.
“Déjà vu, exactly,” BA guard Marcus Fitzgerald said. “I wasn’t playing (last year), but I remember the exact sequence.”
BA’s defense had nearly every option covered, forcing Hendricks to launch a desperation shot.
“About a 38-foot shot at the buzzer, a shot we really want him to take,” BA coach Hubie Smith said. “I thought we did a good job. You know, sometimes they go in. We figured as a coaching staff that’s probably a 20 percent or less shot.”
By BA’s estimation, a player might make that shot one of five times.
“My assistant coach and me practice that shot all the time, so I just had confidence in that one,” said Hendricks, who led all scorers with 21 points, including three 3-pointers.
Hendricks’ teammates mobbed him at center court after the 6-foot-1 senior point guard made the first winning shot of his career.
“They changed defenses on us and I thought it was smart,” Baylor coach Mark Price said. “They showed press out of the time out and then they went zone. We did have something drawn out for zone and it kind of dissolved.”
After Hendricks launched the deep 3, Price looked under the basket to see if Baylor (14-0, 4-0 Division II-AA East/Middle Region) was in position for a rebound or tip-in.
Hendricks is shooting about 45 percent from beyond the 3-point stripe this season, but he was way beyond NBA 3-point range on his big shot.
“He’s the guy we want the ball in his hands,” Price said. “I believe he’s one of the most under-recruited guards in the state. I coached at the mid-major level in Division I for a long time and I don’t have any doubt that he can play at that level, for sure. He’s going to make somebody a really nice signee in the spring.”
Price is in his first year at Baylor after serving as a Belmont assistant the previous eight seasons. Belmont coach Rick Byrd was in the stands watching his former assistant.
“He’s been an unbelievable mentor for me,” Price said. “A lot of our former players and our whole staff were there tonight. It meant a lot to me for those guys to be there.”
Fitzgerald led the Eagles with 19 points, including five 3-pointers. Fellow guard B.J. Davis added 14 with three 3-pointers.
BA guard Randy Brady, a major college prospect, scored 10 points in his first game against his former team. He transferred from Baylor to BA in the summer.
“It was tough to lose to them, but I still love everybody the same,” Brady said. “Going to Baylor last year and transferring here made me want to win even more, but sometimes things don’t work out.”
Baylor held Brady about 13 points below his average, but he drove baseline to tie the score at 51 with 21.6 seconds left.
Baylor’s student section chanted “Randy” whenever he came to the foul line and “overrated” when he clanged a dunk off the rim.
“Who?” Hendricks said about facing his former teammate. “No, I’m joking. We don’t want to talk about that.”
Fitzgerald felt bad about falling to Brady’s former team.
“It hurt,” Fitzgerald said. “I wanted to get this one for my bro, Randy, bad. He really wanted this and I’m just taking this one, like we failed him.”
Price didn’t coach Brady, but said the Baylor players still like the 6-4 sophomore.
“He was a really good teammate when he was at Baylor last year and the people on Baylor’s campus like Randy an awful lot,” Price said. “We wish him the very best.”
BA, a four-time defending state champion, fell to 11-6 and 1-2. The Eagles beat Baylor in last year’s state final.
Devyn Curtis, the only returning starter for BA, hasn’t played this season. He’s rehabbing a shoulder injury sustained in football.
“We’ll know a little bit more in a week,” Smith said. “That’s all I know. We miss him.’
Baylor hosts Father Ryan on Saturday.
Brentwood Academy visits Ensworth (10-6, 3-1) on Tuesday.