STORY BY CHIP CIRILLO | PHOTOS BY DEB SCALLY
A low score is a good score for Brentwood, which kept its season alive with another strong outing on defense.
The Bruins beat Hillsboro 50-43 in a Region 6-AAA semifinal at Brentwood on Tuesday night.
“I was expecting a defensive battle,” said Brentwood’s Ben Mills, a 6-foot-7 forward. “I know they’re not like the other teams in their district. They kind of play like us: more defense, more sets on offense, so I was expecting it to be low scoring.
“I wasn’t expecting us to score 50, to be honest, because we like to keep it low. I like keeping it low. I like defense, but I was expecting to win.”
The Bruins allow an average of 45.8 points per game.
Brentwood (25-7) faces Franklin (26-6) for the fourth time in the championship at 7:00 p.m. Thursday.
The Bruins lost the first three games to the Rebels.
“I thought in the second quarter we really did a great job challenging every shot,” Bruins coach Greg Shirley said. “I don’t think they had any offensive rebounds the first half. Defense shows effort and character of the team.”
Cole Massey led the Bruins with 15 points, scoring all his points on five 3-pointers.
“I just hit the first one and then my teammates kept giving it to me, so I kept shooting it and they kept going in,” said Massey, who was 5 of 6 from beyond the arc.
Massey put in the time during the offseason to develop his outside shot.
“After our last game last year, I heard the ball bouncing in the gym and he easily got probably close to 1,000 shots a day,” Shirley said.
Brentwood’s John Windley added 11 points and Mills scored 10.
The Bruins built a 14-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Burros (22-8) rallied with a 17-6 run to narrow the deficit to 46-43 on J.P. Pegues’ 3-pointer with 34 seconds left.
“We knew they were going to make a run eventually and just like Cane Ridge, we came back from their run,” said Brentwood’s Harry Lackey, a 6-6 guard who had nine points, eight rebounds and four steals. “I thought first half we really locked them up. In the second half, they kind of got to where they wanted to go.”
Brentwood, which held off Cane Ridge in the quarterfinals, finished the scoring with four foul shots in the last 31 seconds.
Pegues led Hillsboro with 11 points, but he was the only Burro in double figures.
“They’re a hard-nosed team, man,” Hillsboro senior Rodney Thweatt said. “They stick to what they do, they’ve got good principles on D. Really, they do the same stuff in their man defense as we do and they play hard.”
Hillsboro narrowed the gap to two points on Ryan Wilcox’s three-point play late in the first half before Brentwood took charge by going on a 16-2 run that stretched into the third quarter.
Brentwood outscored Hillsboro 11-1 at the foul line and 22-14 in the paint.
The Bruins swept two games from the District 12-AAA Tournament champion Burros, including a 44-29 win in December.