The Baylor boys’ basketball post-season run came to an end last week when they suffered a heartbreaking loss to Brentwood Academy in the Division II-AA semifinals at Lipscomb University in Nashville. The Red Raiders were making their second consecutive trip to the final four; in 2018, the team lost to Brentwood in the state championship game.
The path to the final four, however, was not as easy as it was once perceived. Under new coach Mark Price, the team got off to an impressive start in the region, trouncing nearly all opponents, but in the last few weeks of the season, the team’s lead in the region standings had slowly slipped away. After their final game of the regular season, the Red Raiders were tied with McCallie in every category. A coin toss was used to determine who hosted a quarterfinal game in the tournament. McCallie won the toss, which meant Baylor would have to travel to Memphis for their quarterfinal matchup.
In the first round of the playoffs, Baylor defeated Father Ryan by a score of 46-39. The victory set up a matchup against Christian Brothers in Memphis. With great performances by seniors Beyuan Hendricks, and Blake Pruitt along with sophomore Nick Kurtz, Baylor convincingly beat Christian Brothers 65-51. During the first two state playoff games, the Red Raiders re-established themselves and were looking forward to the semifinal matchup against Brentwood Academy. The team was 1-1 against Brentwood during the regular season and was fueled by strong play from Hendricks and Kurtz, but also enjoyed sparks of energy from the likes of seniors Greyson Linderman and Wiley Pippenger. Linderman commented, “some of us will play in college, but for most of us, these are the last moments of basketball ever, so we just have to enjoy it and make the most of it.”
The semifinal game against Brentwood was a defensive battle as the score was tied 17-17 at half time and ended with a final score of 39-37. Hendricks led the Raiders with eight points. Despite the tough loss, the team should be proud of a great season. They finished with a final record of 22 wins and 6 losses.
Coach Price and the underclassmenn will now focus on preparing for next year and their quest to get back to the final four in the 2020 season.