Buckley Coach Ron Cooper was shaking his head while watching his team warm up before Tuesday's game against Crossroads.
"If we play better than any of my teams have played in the last five years and make them play their worst game in the last two years--then it will be close," Cooper said.
Cooper was almost right. Buckley played its best game of the season, and Crossroads played one of its worst, but it still wasn't enough as the Griffins lost, 84-69, in a Delphic League basketball game at home.
Normally, a 15-point loss isn't reason for optimism. But then again, Crossroads isn't your normal Southern Section 1-A opponent.
When Buckley played Crossroads earlier this season, the Griffins lost, 104-64.
Crossroads (15-7, 9-0) has already clinched its third consecutive league championship since moving up from the Small Schools Division three years ago. The Roadrunners--Small Schools champions in 1982 and 1983--have appeared in a Southern Section championship five straight seasons.
"I was real happy with our effort today," Cooper said. "Unfortunately, we gave them too many second shots in the first quarter."
Buckley (18-3, 6-3) took a 6-0 lead before Crossroads began a three-minute spurt that proved to be the difference.
Senior forward Byron Carson had eight points during the stretch, as the Roadrunners outscored Buckley, 20-2, to take a 12-point lead with three minutes left in the first quarter.
Buckley tried to catch up, but the closest the Griffins could get was nine.
All five Crossroads starters scored in double figures. Senior guard Keith Davis had a game-high 19 points, and Carson finished with 18.
But Crossroads Coach Elliot Turret was anything but pleased with his team's performance.
"Basically, if you noticed the bad aroma as we went into the locker room at halftime, then you get an idea of how I feel about the way we played," Turret said. "But, I have to give Buckley credit. They executed their offense, switched defenses and played excited."
The excitement was still in evidence following the game. Buckley has already clinched at least a tie with Providence for second place and the Griffins are assured a spot in the playoffs.
"We stayed as close to Crossroads as anyone in our division has this season," Cooper said. "If we continue to play like we did today, we'll be all right."