BUFFALO, W.Va. -- The score and pace favored Buffalo all game, but certain victory eluded the Bison boys basketball team until the final minutes.
Buffalo employed its up-tempo style and led throughout. While the Bison lead ballooned to as many as 15, Sissonville cut its deficit to three with 5:18 remaining before sixth-ranked Buffalo pulled away for a 76-68 win.
"Our kids will battle right to the end no matter who it is, and I think that's the strong point of these guys," Bison Coach Chuck Elkins said. "They're not going to give up. They're going to keep after you and keep going."
Buffalo led by 15 at halftime, but Sissonville carved into the advantage behind the strong-shooting of Zach Null and Trent Stowers, along with a solid performance from Anthony Bess off the bench.
The Indians trailed by 10 to begin the fourth quarter. Bess successfully converted a 3-point play, followed by a layup from Austin Crawford to quickly cut the lead to five. Bess pulled Sissonville (3-7) within three after a Buffalo turnover, and the Bison led 54-51 with 5:18 remaining in the game.
After 27 minutes of a rather frenetic pace, Buffalo (10-1) began to pull away in the final minutes, however. Senior forward Levi Jordan and junior guard Laythen Good combined to score the game's next 12 points to create a bit of comfort room for Buffalo.
"We just had to keep playing our game, press, get the ball and run it," Jordan said of the winning game plan. "That's basically our game - transition."
Speed and quality shooting propelled Buffalo to its lead, but free-throws cemented the game down the stretch. The Bison shot 13-of-19 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter.
After a seven-point loss to Charleston Catholic and a tight contest with Sissonville, Good said Buffalo has grown from its recent games.
"You learn a lot," he said. "You learn how to stay controlling at the end of the game. You learn how to fight or to continue fighting to get back in the game, learn how to stay in the lead, learn how to pick up momentum, how to stay at the pace."
Good posted a game-high 24 points, including 17 in the first half, on 8-of-12 shooting. Good finished the night 6-of-9 from 3-point range.
"Teammates were finding me, I was shooting good, and they kept finding me," Good said. "I was thankful for them trying to find me, and I just did my part."
Behind Good, Jordan finished with 22 points, including 7-of-10 at the free throw line. Isaiah Robinson and Dylan Rich also reached double figures with 10 points.
For the Indians, Zach Null and Trent Stowers combined for 40 points, as Null finished 5-of-9 from 3-point range.
"They were more physical," Good said. "(Null), he shot lights out. You got to give him credit. That's what hurt us the most. We left him open. We left others open that we shouldn't have."
Though the Indians found weaknesses in the Bison defense, Sissonville found no answer for Buffalo's speed.
"We don't play at a great speed, but we play at a little more up-tempo than most people around here," Elkins said. "I think that kind of got to them.
"I think the press eventually gets to everybody. It causes people to get out of their rhythm and play a different style than they're used to."
The pace doesn't work well for every team, but for the Bison, it's a winning strategy.
"Our motto is relax and have fun," Elkins said. "Go after it and go hard."