Bucs Move into Basketball Elite Eight after Massive Upset

March 6, 2024
BHS boys varsity basketball qualifies for the Elite Eight of the Division 2 MIAA State Tournament after knocking out the #3 seed Pope Francis Prep 52-42 on Tuesday night in a big bracket upset. Image: /bedfordhsboysbball/

The Bedford High School Buccaneers pulled off one of the greatest upsets in any BHS sport’s post-season history on Tuesday evening, eliminating third-seeded Pope Francis Prep from the Division 2 MIAA state tournament, 52-42, in Springfield.

Bedford, the 14th seed, now waits the winner of Wednesday’s quarterfinal game between Milford and Middleborough for a showdown in the Elite Eight, probably Friday night on a neutral court.

The Bucs and the Cardinals were tied at 37 with six-and-a half minutes remaining. Pope Francis did not convert another basket until only 11 seconds remained and the outcome long decided.

Bedford quickly took a five-point lead on a floater by Mekhi Volcy and Justice Buchannan’s trifecta. The Cardinals, scoreless for four-and-a-half minutes, cut it to 42-39 with two minutes to play on two from the line.

The differential stayed at one possession until the 50-second mark when Buchannan drove into the paint and dished to Camdyn Shoesmith on the right baseline for an uncontested short jumper.

Pope Francis missed on the other end, and all the Bucs had to do was make their free throws. They were six-for-six from the line, courtesy of Justin Liberman, Buchannan, and Shoesmith. Buchannan added an exclamation point with a layup at the buzzer.

“We had a game plan coming in,” said Head Coach Anthony Halls. “We worked a lot on rebounding and positioning, and identifying their shooters. I thought it paid off tonight when it mattered most. Our guys bought in defensively, making it difficult for Pope Francis to do what they wanted to do.”

Buchannan, Shoesmith, Volcy, Liberman, and Keston Paul played almost the entire fourth quarter, slamming the door on the third seed. 

“I went with relatively quicker guys. They were a little bit gassed at the end, but it’s the playoffs,” Halls said. “You’ve got to fight through the fatigue.”

The Bucs led by as many as nine in the first half, led by Liberman, who was hot from outside the arc, and the excellent team defense. Pope Francis never led by more than three points in the game.

The next game will be against a lower seed, thanks to earlier upsets. Halls is emphasizing that the Bucs must “always respect your opponent. Everybody out there is good.” 

Bedford’s monumental win was especially uplifting, as the sports community is mourning the unexpected passing of retired Head Coach Jim Byrnes. “These guys are well aware of what’s going on,” Halls said. “They want to make sure they are doing right by the town.”

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