STORY BY CHIP CIRILLO | PHOTOS BY CARL EDMONDSON, JR.
First came the alley-oop.
Then the lay-in. Followed by two clutch free throws.
And an overtime win for Brentwood.
The Bruins rallied from an eight-point third-quarter deficit for a 50-47 victory over Oakland in a Class AAA quarterfinal at MTSU’s Murphy Center on Thursday morning.
“What an exciting day for Brentwood and Bruin Nation,” Bruins coach Greg Shirley said. “This group of young men: I love them. They just battled and they’ve done everything I’ve asked out of them.”
The Brentwood players slapped high fives with classmates in the front row of the Bruins’ student section after the game.
“No school tomorrow,” chanted the students, eagerly awaiting Friday’s 2:45 p.m. semifinal against Memphis East (25-8).
Harry Lackey’s lay-in off a perfectly placed pass from Preston Moore gave the Bruins (27-8) a 48-47 lead with 23 seconds left.
The North Carolina alley-oop play was designed by assistant coach Brian Hemping.
“I watched him run it a couple of times on the J.V. and I said, ‘Ahhh, that might work for us.’” Shirley said. “Give coach Hemping credit for that play. Great pass and this man (Lackey) can go up and get it.”
Lackey, a 6-foot-6 guard, said the Bruins have run the play in practice quite a few times.
“It was working earlier in the game and we thought we’d come back to it at the end, and Preston threw it perfect,” Lackey said.
It was a gutsy call considering the pass has drawn air a few times in practice.
“He made me look good,” Moore said. “If somebody’s running zone, we try to run it every now and then. I don’t want to say I’ve kind of perfected it…”
“We’ve got good chemistry,” Lackey chimed in.
Oakland’s Dearre McDonald bounced a 12-foot jump shot from the lane off the front of the rim with six seconds left.
Moore drew a foul and hit two free throws to finish the scoring with 2.5 seconds remaining.
Jaden Jamison’s desperation 3-point attempt bounced off the backboard at the buzzer, sealing Brentwood’s win.
“I think we came out in the third quarter strong,” Lackey said. “We came out like a different team, like we wanted it more and it just carried over into the fourth.”
Lackey led the Bruins with 14 points, including 8 of 9 from the foul line.
John Windley, Cole Massey, 6-7 Ben Mills and Jon Franklin Burks each added eight points for Brentwood’s balanced attack.
McDonald’s 3-pointer with 49 seconds left in regulation sent the game into OT tied at 43.
“I try to play with a chip on my shoulder,” Moore said of Brentwood’s second-half mindset. “If we’re going to play slow and passive then that’s obviously not going to cut it, so we’ve got to pick up our energy and effort.”
McDonald led the Patriots (24-6) with 17 points and point guard Ray Tyler added 11.
Oakland led 47-46 when Patriots forward DD Anderson missed a jumper with 46 seconds left. Twenty-three seconds later, Lackey made the go-ahead basket.
“We got the ball with a one-point lead and we take an ill-advised shot, (which) we didn’t want to do,” Oakland coach Troy Bond said. “I just thought we had some breakdowns there at the very end. I thought momentum was actually to us being down by six, but they got it right back.”
Oakland trailed 38-32 with 5:43 left in regulation before sending the game into OT with an 11-5 run.
“Again, I don’t think we executed well and I thought they had some great plays and finishes right there,” Bond said. “At the end of the day, the team that makes the most plays at the end is going to win it.”
Bond knew Brentwood might try its alley-oop play, but said Oakland didn’t do a good job guarding it.
The loss ended the Patriots’ eight-game winning streak.
Brentwood finished second behind Franklin in the District 11-AAA regular season and tournament and Region 6-AAA, but the Bruins are the only surviving team in Williamson County now.
“All I know is after today there are four teams in AAA basketball and Brentwood is excited about being one of the four, and we are going to come be the best Brentwood team we can be tomorrow,” Shirley said.
The Bruins advance to the semifinals for the fourth time in seven years, including 2013, 2014 and 2015. Brentwood finished second in 2015.
Now comes the hard part.
Memphis East is led by James Wiseman, the nation’s top prospect according to 247 Sports and ESPN.
The 7-foot Memphis signee is hoping to lead East to its fourth straight championship.
A McDonald’s American, the senior transferred from Ensworth to East after his sophomore season. Nicknamed “Big Ticket,” he picked Memphis over Kentucky for college.
“James Wiseman is one of the few players in the class who shows the ability to have dominating performances on both ends of the floor,” ESPN’s national recruiting director Paul Biancardi told ESPN after he committed to Memphis in November.
“His physical tools are elite by NBA standards, as he owns a 7-foot-6 wingspan and a 9-foot-3½-inch standing reach. The combination of his physical measurables, finishing ability and shot-blocking talent makes him No. 1 in the class.”
East is 32-6 in state tournament play with nine titles. Brentwood is 5-4 with one runner-up finish.
Five of the Mustangs’ losses were to out-of-state teams at national tournaments and two were to Memphis traditional powers.
Memphis-area teams have won 17 of the last 19 AAA titles. Blackman (2014) and Maryville (2007) were he only schools to break the stranglehold.