When the going gets tough, go and get tough; It’s a motto the Buchanan Bears boys basketball team evokes, and it was a mindset most evident as Buchanan beared down late and displayed clutch defense in their 59-52 victory over Chavez High Monday, Dec. 30.
With the win, Buchanan finished in 3rd place at the 2019 Clovis Elks Classic tournament.
Senior guard Charlie Barnes had a team-high 18 points – and thought of another saying to describe his team’s defensive effort.
“[Our team] has a saying, ‘In the gap, on the Pack,’” Barnes said. “We play a Virginia-style Pack Line defense, and we believe we are the best in the TRAC.”
Chavez led after the first quarter 12-8, but Buchanan’s Pack Line defense made hitting outside shots difficult for Chavez’s guards. The Titans shot 1-for-6 from the perimeter in the second quarter.
The Bears took full advantage of Chavez’s shooting woes, dominating the boards en route to a 22-21 lead at halftime.
Buchanan continued to frustrate the Titan offense with physical defense in the second half, fueling a 14-2 run that gave the Bears a 12-point lead in the fourth quarter.
The defending South Sequoia League co-champions looked outmatched against Buchanan’s physicality – something Bears’ first-year head coach Brooks Malm has built his team around.
“[Our defense] is huge. It’s what we pride ourselves on,” Malm said. “It’s a testament to our guys. We probably don’t pass the eye test for a lot of fans, but we find ways to keep the scores low and find ways to win.”
Chavez closed the gap to four with four minutes remaining, but Buchanan’s defense emerged in time for an 8-0 run to seal a Bears win.
Chavez’s Fernando Carranza had a game-high 19 points, but he was outscored by Buchanan’s senior duo of Barnes and Mason Marini (18 points).
“Charlie Barnes is one of the most intrinsically motivated guys I’ve been around… and he deserves to have nights like this,” Malm said. “Mason does it all. He scraps and finds a way to get buckets.”
As long as Malm and the Bears keep finding ways to win, they will be on everyone’s radar in the TRAC, as league play starts next week.