BIRMINGHAM — Freshman Caleb Holt scored 24 of his 33 points in the second half, including 9 points in the final three minutes, to rally No. 4 Buckhorn to a 65-57 win over McGill-Toolen in the Class 6A state semifinals Wednesday at Legacy Arena.
The 6-5 Holt was unstoppable in the low post, making 8 of 17 field goals and 16 of 19 free throws while grabbing 14 rebounds, as the Bucks (26-8) snapped the Yellow Jackets’ 19-game winning streak and moved into Saturday’s state finals.
Holt, who helped Buckhorn outscore McGill-Toolen 28-12 in the paint, closed the third period by scoring the Bucks’ final 11 points, then made two free throws with 5:32 to go to give them the lead for good at 50-49. He made 7 of 8 free throws in the final 2:58.
“He’s going to be a pro one day,” Jackets coach Phillip Murphy said of the 15-year-old phenom.
McGill-Toolen (28-7) built up a 12-point lead at 41-29 in the third period but got outscored 16-9 in the final 5:58 after taking their last lead at 49-48.
The Jackets cut the lead to 60-57 on Alex Heim’s two free throws with 1:29 to go but Holt and Jerimiah Wilson combined to make 5 of 6 foul shots in the final minute.
Bennett Russ scored 20 points and Devin McCaine added 14 for McGill-Toolen, which shot 33% and got outscored 25-14 at the free-throw line. The Jackets stayed in contention with 9-of-28 three-point shooting.
Murphy said his players gave everything they had to make the state final four for the fifth time in the last eight seasons.
“These guys shocked and surprised people all year long,” Murphy said. “This is one of the best basketball teams in the state of Alabama. If there were any questions going into this game, I think these guys answered them.”