By Richard Greene
Boyd point guard Junior Whatley did exactly what his coach screamed for him to do in the closing minutes Saturday afternoon.
The junior drove through the heart of the Millsap Bulldogs’ defense and found Travis Williams for an easy layup. The play secured Boyd’s 43-38 victory in the final game at Boyd High School Gym.
“We practice that all the time,” said Whatley, who scored a team-high 17 points. “That’s our bread and butter.
“We knew this was our season. We had to get this one for the seniors. Now we’ll probably play them again next week.”
Boyd pulled even with Millsap for third place in District 9-2A with the win. The teams, which split their regular season meetings, have one more game remaining. Boyd closes the regular season at Chico Tuesday. Millsap will play Jacksboro.
“I’m extremely proud of the guys,” said Boyd coach Oscar Hernandez. “They beat us by 20 at their place. Today, we kept battling and it went back and forth.”
Along with playing to keep their postseason hopes alive, Hernandez said the team was motivated to get a win in the final game in the gym. Boyd will open a gym at its new high school next fall.
“I told them that can’t close down the building with a loss,” he said.
Boyd led by as many a 12 points in the first half, but Millsap fought back to take a pair of leads in the third quarter. Millsap’s Aaron Evans, who poured in a game-high 24 points, put the Bulldogs up 33-32 with 1:41 left in the frame. Whatley quickly responded, draining his third 3-pointer of the game. Kyle Stearns got a steal and layup to send Boyd into the final frame with a 37-33 lead.
Both teams were scoreless in the fourth quarter until Evans hit a shot with 4:58 remaining to get Millsap within two, 37-35. The shot would be the Bulldogs’ only field goal of the final frame. Millsap was 1-for-8 in the quarter against Boyd’s tough zone defense.
After Whatley stretched Boyd’s lead to four, Evans hit a free throw to keep Millsap within a possession. On Boyd’s next possession, Hernendez screamed from the bench for Whatley to come get the ball and take over. He followed orders with his drive and dish to Williams to make it a two-possesion game. Millsap never got closer than three points in the final two minutes.
“That’s why you have a point guard,” Hernandez said. “He’s got to have his hands on the ball.”
Whatley opened the game with a 3-pointer to help Boyd out to an early lead. The lead stood at 10, 17-7, at the end of the first quarter after Boyd went on an 11-1 run.
Millsap made its own run in the second quarter. Millsap pulled within two, 23-21, after an Evans’ basket capped a 14-4 run.
Boyd was able to hold on a for a 25-21 halftime lead when Tim Fleming closed the half with a steal and layup.
Fleming finished with six points. Edgar Lugo scored eight for Boyd. Williams added six, Stearns four, and Jared Cate two.