LEXINGTON, Ky. – In its fourth straight trip to the state tournament, a battle-tested Bowling Green High School boys basketball team showcased its toughness down the stretch and took a highly anticipated matchup.
Terry Taylor posted 20 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks as the Purples beat Scott County 68-53 in Friday’s quarterfinals of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena.
It was a battle of two of the top four teams in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – No. 1 Scott County and No. 4 Bowling Green – and was tight throughout before the Purples scored the final 11 points to pull away.
“That was the best basketball team we’ve played this year, bar none,” Bowling Green coach D.G. Sherrill said of Scott County. “We had to play as good of a fourth quarter as we’ve played all year long, and when we most needed it we stepped up to the challenge.”
Deangelo Wilson (20 points, five steals) and Zion Harmon (16 points, four assists) joined Taylor with big games as the Purples (34-2) extended their win streak to 27 and advanced to face Scott in Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. semifinal.
Bowling Green has been eliminated by the eventual state champion each of the past three seasons – Covington Catholic (2014), Owensboro (2015) and Paul Dunbar (2016). The Purples blew a 14-point lead in last year’s 57-51 quarterfinal loss to Paul Dunbar.
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“We don’t want that to happen because that was a devastating loss,” Wilson said. “We just try to keep playing and not get too worried if the other team makes a run. We’re also going to make a run ourselves.”
Michael Moreno (15 points) and Bryce Long (14 points) led Scott County (31-6), which was in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2014.
Bowling Green jumped to a 7-2 lead and never trailed. The Purples won the rebounding battle 34-24, led by Taylor (Austin Peay signee) and fellow 6-foot-6 senior Kyran Jones (10 rebounds).
“I feel like we have the best rebounder in the state in Terry and the second-best rebounder in the state in Kyran,” Sherrill said. “For us to outrebound them by 10 probably won the basketball game.”
Cardinals coach Billy Hicks agreed.
“You have to give Bowling Green credit,” Hicks said. “Rebounds don’t jump in your hands. You have to go get them. That might be the first time this year we’ve been outrebounded.”
Moreno’s dunk pulled Scott County within 50-49 with 7:15 left, and the Cardinals had a chance to take the lead on their next possession when Cooper Robb missed on a drive to the basket.
The Purples responded with a 7-1 run that made it 57-51 with 3:33 left. Included were three free throws by eighth-grader Zion Harmon, who was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 4:52 remaining. Hicks did not agree with the call.
“Good players are smart for that: He’ll stick that leg out and make contact and fall down,” Hicks said. “You can’t fall for that, not on a big play like that. … That was a back breaker.”
Lorenzo Williams’ basket pulled Scott County within 57-53 with 2:47 left, but the Cardinals went scoreless the rest of the way. After hitting 21 of 37 shots through the first three quarters, Scott County was 2 for 14 in the fourth.
Hicks said the poor shooting was the result of fatigue.
“It’s just tough when you’re coming from behind … and you’re running uphill the entire time,” he said. “That takes it out of you. That’s why it’s important if you can get that lead and all of a sudden that adrenaline starts pumping again.”
Scott 74, Perry County Central 52: Jake Ohmer, a University of the Cumberlands commit, posted 32 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals to lead the Eagles (23-12) over the Commodores (28-8).
The smaller Eagles used their quickness to force the Commodores into 23 turnovers and converted them into 28 points. Up 37-33 midway through the third quarter, Scott closed with a 19-4 run to take a 56-37 bulge to the fourth.
“The difference in the game is when we started turning up the heat,” Scott coach Steve Fromeyer said. “We just went to a man-to-man press with traps here and there. We were able to get deflections and get out and run. That’s who we are.”
Idris Akinyemi scored 18 points to lead Perry County Central. Princewill Anosike added 13 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks.
Coach Shannon Hoskins said turnovers were the difference.
“We’ve had the turnover bug,” Hoskins said. “We’ve averaged in the neighborhood of 16 turnovers for the year. We don’t really have a true point guard … and in a game like that where they’re all small and all quick and can get up under you, it gave us problems.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and email@example.com.
BOWLING GREEN 68, SCOTT COUNTY 53
BOWLING GREEN (34-2) – Kyran Jones 4p, 10r; Terry Taylor 20p, 14r, 3b; Deangelo Wilson 20p, 5s; Zion Harmon 16p, 4a; Jairus Key 4p; Trey Jones 4p.
SCOTT COUNTY (31-6) – Cooper Robb 10p, 5a; Michael Moreno 15p; Cooper Watts 10p, 7r, 3b; Bryce Long 14p; Lorenzo Williams 4p.
SCOTT 74, PERRY COUNTY CENTRAL 52
PERRY COUNTY CENTRAL (28-8) – Damon Tobler 11p, 5a; Idris Akinyemi 18p, 11r; Princewill Anosike 13p, 13r, 4b; Noah Back 5p; Austin Hill 2p; Richard Cornett 3p.
SCOTT (23-12) – Tim Jolley 4p; Chad Ohmer 14p, 4s; Jake Ohmer 32p, 10r, 6a, 4s; Nelson Perrin 10p; Jaycob Pouncey 7p; Vincent Dumlao 6p; Nathan Joyce 1p.