Being part of the longest game in 11th Region tournament history is pretty cool, unless you’re the team that comes out on the losing side.
That was the case for Bryan Station, which fell to Madison Central, 73-65, in the first round of the 11th Region tournament at McBrayer Arena in Richmond on Wednesday night. The game went to three overtime periods, the first game in the tournament’s 78-year history to do so.
It was the end of a banner season for the Defenders, who bounced back from a 13-13 season and carried the torch for Fayette County Public Schools’ boys’ basketball for much of the season. They were ranked No. 3 in the state at one time this season and was one of the last teams to lose a game this season after starting 11-0.
Bryan Station finished with a 23-8 record, the program’s highest win total under fifth-year head coach Tommy Johnson and the most since 2008, when the Defenders went 30-3 and lost to Lexington Catholic in the region finals.
Station defeated Madison Central in their earlier two meetings this season. The Indians employed a zone defense in the third get-together that proved effective by the finish.
“I thought we handled the zone really well early as far as eexcuting and knocking down shots,” Johnson said. “We worked on it and practiced on it. I think down the stretch we missed a couple of shots. There were a couple crucial turnovers and the ball just didn’t bounce our way at the end of the night, and that happens sometimes.”
Station had multiple game-winning shot attempts fall short and draw iron over the course of the game’s final periods.
“With basketball, you’ve got to live with it when it does bounce your way. You’re up and you’re high,” Johnson said. “But you also have to live with it when it doesn’t bounce your way. That’s part of it.”
Johnson spent nearly an hour in the locker room with members of his team after the game ended.
“There’s nothing to hang their head on,” Johnson said. “They gave it everything they got. We talked about life and basketball. As long as you give it and you fight until the end, there’s nothing to be upset about. No one person out there lost the game for us. We won as a team all year long and we lost tonight as a team.”
He was heartbroken for his seniors — Eric “Boss” Boone, Terrance Clayton-Murphy and Alex Pickett.
“I’ve been with those guys the last four years. It’s hard to see their season end like this because we did have goals and they had goals,” I love every single one of them. It’s tough. Just like in life, tough things happen. The sun’s gonna come up tomorrow, though, so we’ll have to move on.”
Boone was named 11th Region Player of the Year this season and is a Mr. Basketball finalist. It was a breakout season for a senior that contributed in about every way imaginable for the Defenders.
“How about that guy, huh? He’s pretty good,” Johnson said with a grin. “I’m proud of him. I’m proud of all the seniors that we’ve had. At the beginning of the season did I know he could be good? Yea, I knew he could be good.
“He led us to this record. We were No. 3 in the state at some point. He led us there. I’m proud of him. I can’t say enough good things about him and all the other guys.”