LEXINGTON, Ky. – Down four points early in the second quarter and its point guard on the bench with three fouls, the Bowling Green High School boys basketball team went to its stars to escape the funk.
Terry Taylor hit a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter to get going and finished with 20 points and eighth-grader Zion Harmon added 17 points as the Purples beat Graves County 68-51 in the first round of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena.
Heavily favored Bowling Green trailed 17-13 early in the second quarter and led just 31-29 at halftime before breaking open the game in the third.
“We were a lot better basketball team and much more efficient in the second half than we were in the first,” said Purples coach D.G. Sherrill, whose team is in the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight year.
Bowling Green (33-2) – No. 4 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – extended its state-best winning streak to 26 and will face the Scott County-Pulaski County winner in Friday’s noon quarterfinal.
Jordyn Naranjo scored 11 points to lead Graves County (27-8), which shot 52.6 percent (10 of 19) in the first half but just 32.1 percent (9 of 28) in the second.
“In the first half we were able to get the shots we wanted, and in the second half they went to a 2-3 zone and kind of put us back on our heels,” Eagles coach Josh Frick said “Their length really bothered our guard play.”
Bowling Green senior guard Deangelo Wilson picked up his third foul at the 6:45 mark of the third quarter, and Naranjo’s resulting free throw gave Graves County a 17-13 lead.
But Taylor hit a pair of 3-pointers during a 9-2 run that gave Bowling Green a 22-19 lead at the 4:35 mark. The Purples never trailed again.
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“Coach says to always take good game shots, and I felt they were good game shots,” said Taylor, a 6-foot-6 senior who has signed with Austin Peay. “When I made my first one I just kept on going and feeding off of it.”
Bowling Green opened the third quarter with an 11-2 run, taking a 42-31 lead on Trey Jones’ free throw with 4:29 left.
Sherrill credited Jones with giving Bowling Green a lift on defense after Wilson went out.
“(Wilson) is big for us, so when we lose him it’s significant,” Sherrill said. “But I’m proud of how our guys kept fighting through it and played together and got this thing done.”
Graves County 7-footer Chris Vogt, a Northern Kentucky signee, finished with eight points, nine rebounds and five blocks before fouling out with 5:15 left in the fourth quarter.
Sherrill said his players did a good job taking the ball at Vogt.
“You have to get into his body,” Sherrill said. “If you let him be the help defender he’ll block 15 shots. You have to try to neutralize that 7-foot frame.”
* Perry County Central 61, Pikeville 46: The Commodores (28-7) used their size advantage to blow past the Panthers (23-9) in the second half after leading 23-20 at halftime.
Perry County Central won the rebounding battle 44-21 and finished with 12 blocked shots.
Damon Tobler and Austin Hill both scored 12 points to lead Perry County Central. Princewill Anosike, a 6-foot-9 senior, had 10 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks. Idris Akenyemi, a 6-8 senior, added 10 points, seven rebounds and four blocks.
Pikeville’s tallest starter was 6-4 Wyatt Battaile.
“They’re bigger than anybody we’ve seen,” said Pikeville coach Elisha Justice, whose team shot just 30.8 percent (16 of 52). “We normally get some easy baskets around the rim, and their shot blockers really prevented us from doing that.”
Perry County Central shot 54.3 percent (25 of 46) and finished with 19 assists, led by Tobler’s eight.
“We were inside-out, hitting cutters in the middle, flashing it back out,” Commodores coach Shannon Hoskins said. “That’s what you dream like when you come down here that you’ll play like.
Cade Byers led Pikeville with eight points and three blocks.
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and email@example.com.
BOWLING GREEN 68, GRAVES COUNTY 51
GRAVES COUNTY (27-8) – Brady Wetherington 7p; Jordyn Naranjo 11p; Trevor Grant 8p; Chris Vogt 8p, 9r, 5b; Brenden Young 6p; Logan Elliott 3p; Aaron Jones 2p; Ryan Mathis 2p, 4a; Jace Wiggins 1p; Jacob Savage 2p; Grant Jackson 1p.
BOWLING GREEN (33-2) – Deangelo Wilson 7p, 3s; Zion Harmon 17p, 3s; Kyran Jones 9p, 11r; Terry Taylor 20p, 4a; Jarius Key 6p; Trey Jones 7p; Jaylen Cornwell 2p.
PERRY COUNTY CENTRAL 61, PIKEVILLE 46
PERRY COUNTY CENTRAL (28-7) – Damon Tobler 12p, 9r, 8a; Idris Akenyemi 10p, 7r, 4b; Noah Back 9p, 4a; Austin Hill 12p; Princewill Anosike 10p, 15r, 6b; Chandler Caudill 4p, ra; Jacob Woolum 2p; Noah Caudill 2p.
PIKEVILLE (23-9) – Kyle Watkins 4p, 4a; Wyatt Battaile 7p, 6r, 6s; Evan Rhodes 6p; Connor Roberts 5p; Cade Byers 8p; Jose Childers 3p; Grayson Harris 2p; Connor Risner 5p; Kobe Brown 2p; Zach Hamilton 4p.