On a night in which the Boyd Yellowjackets’ missed 12 of their 26 shots from the free-throw line, the game came down to a pair free throws with a second left Tuesday.
Boyd’s Jared Cate put the team’s struggles from the stripe behind it, hitting both shots to give the Yellowjackets a two-point lead. When Bridgeport’s Alex Samples’ second free throw on the other end rimmed out, Cate’s shots proved to be the difference in a 49-48 Yellowjackets’ victory
“I’ve started the year out rough coming off football,” said Cate, who finished with 14 points and six rebounds. “Through two games, Chasen [Starnes] and I were at 30 and 40 percent at the line, and I was the 30. I just went to the line with confidence and hit them.”
Cate’s free throws came after Bridgeport point guard Cameron King’s shot on a baseline with two seconds left in a game tied at 47 came up short. In the fight for the loose ball, Bridgeport center Blake Mahon was whistled for a foul, sending Cate to the line.
After Cate hit his two shots, Boyd’s Justin Tyree was called for running through a screen set by the Bulls’ Samples on the inbound. Samples hit the front end of the 1-and-1, but he could knock down the second. He finished with 10 points.
“It’s disappointing, but it’s a good learning experience,” said Bridgeport coach Brian Miller. “We’re a young team. We’ve got to learn how to finish. We made too many mistakes down the stretch.”
Bridgeport led by six, 46-40, with 3:30 left. But the Bulls managed just two free throws the remainder of the game, going 0-for-4 in the final three minutes.
“We took some bad shots and didn’t have many good offensive possessions down the stretch,” Miller said.
Starnes’ three-point play with 2:57 left brought Boyd within one, 46-45. The Yellowjackets tied it at 47 with Justin Tyree’s lone basket with 1:50 remaining.
“Our last game we were down six late,” said Starnes, who finished with 13 points. “We have a habit of getting down and coming back. Our athleticism takes over when we start pressing.”
Boyd coach Oscar Hernandez credited his seniors Cate and Starnes for leading the comeback.
“These guys don’t ever quit,” he said. “Starnes and Cate are not going to let anyone quit.”
The Bulls had a huge game from Blake Thompson, who poured in a game-high 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Thompson had six offensive rebounds.
Thompson’s three-pointer with 5:50 remaining gave the Bulls their largest lead of seven, 42-35.