STORY BY CHIP CIRILLO | PHOTOS BY DEB SCALLY
At 5-foot-9, Preston Moore is the second-smallest player on Brentwood’s roster.
But he came up big in the Bruins’ 49-33 win over visiting Page in the first round of the District 11-AAA tournament Friday night.
Moore led the Bruins with 15 points, including six in the fourth quarter.
“This could have been our last game, so we didn’t want to let that happen,” Moore said. “I usually don’t let the pressure get to me. We stepped it up on defense a lot.”
Moore made the game’s flashiest play with a no-look pass to trailer Joey McPherson on a fast-break layup in the fourth quarter.
Brentwood (22-6) trailed by one entering the fourth quarter before outscoring Page 24-7 during the last eight minutes.
“(Preston) made several huge plays,” Bruins coach Greg Shirley said. “His toughness has been really the strength of our team because he brings it every single day at practice, every single game. He has never taken one play off his whole life.”
The second-seeded Bruins face No. 6 Ravenwood (11-13) in Battle of the Woods III in a 7:30 p.m. semifinal at Dickson County on Saturday.
Brentwood won the first two games against its archrival from the east side of town.
Jack Thurman, the Bruins’ leading scorer, is off the team for an undisclosed reason.
“Jack is no longer part of our program,” Shirley said. “I believe in the guys that we have. We have a saying, ‘We’re all we got, we’re all we need.’ I think there’s a commercial (about that). They love that and ask Preston. They 100 percent believe it.
“We’ve done it over and over again, so minus one down, other players step up. They still want to be on the team.”
The Bruins held the Patriots (10-17) to less than 11 points in all four quarters.
“Well, we take a lot of pride in that,” Shirley said of his team’s defense. “It was about 95 percent man and about five percent zone.”
Brentwood hit 16 of 23 from the foul line.
Sophomore Ben Cyphers led the Patriots with 11 points as Page ended the season with six losses in its last seven games.
The Patriots were held to under 50 points in five of those losses. Brentwood swept three games from Page.
“It was just us making mistakes,” Page coach Larry Noe said of the fourth quarter. “It’s been our story all year. We can’t stay mentally tough enough to take care of business.”
The Patriots never got in an offensive rhythm against the Bruins, who have five players 6-3 or taller.
“We just couldn’t hit shots tonight,” Noe said. “Nate Hollman had (three) points, Mason Allen had two. We’ve had times this year that Mason’s had 18 to 20 in a game and the same way with Nate.
“When you get in tournament play, crazy things happen. Sometimes kids just get really nervous and they’re just not ready. Brentwood did a great job, but we were missing putbacks right underneath the rim, missing wide-open 3’s. Normally, we knock those down.”
Brentwood also ended Page’s season in the district tournament last year.
Noe said distractions hampered the Patriots all season.
“It’s a lot of stuff and I think every coach goes through it every year,” Noe said.
True blue: Brentwood’s clock keeper is in his 34th season with the Bruins.