It might not have been as smooth of a ride as the previous two seasons, but it’s the first week of March and the Doss High School boys basketball team once again finds itself in a regional championship game.
The Dragons survived a cold-shooting night and got another strong showing from senior guard Jaylon Hall to beat Pleasure Ridge Park 42-29 on Friday in the semifinals of the Class Act Federal Credit Union Sixth Region Tournament at Valley.
Doss went 6-5 over its final 11 regular-season games and lost an inside presence when 6-foot-4 sophomore Shawn’Kel Knight-Goff (4.5 ppg, 4.3 rpg) left the team before the 22nd District Tournament.
But coach Tony Williams said he never lost faith his team could contend for its third straight regional title.
“I never questioned if we could get here,” he said. “I like the fact that everybody else questions if we could get here. We’re the ones who’ve been there two years in a row.”
The Dragons (22-10) advanced to face Fern Creek (32-2) – No. 5 in the state in The Courier-Journal’s Litkenhous Ratings – in Tuesday’s 7 p.m. regional final at Valley.
Doss shot just 34.9 percent (15 of 43) but used a 2-3 zone that flustered the Panthers, who shot just 25 percent (11 of 44) overall and were 1 for 18 from 3-point range.
“Doss collapsed in that zone and wasn’t going to let us in the lane,” Panthers coach Dale Mabrey said. “It was a great game plan. Tony did a great job. But I would have bet everything I had that we wouldn’t have shot 25 percent from the field. We could not get anything going.”
Cyncer Wilson scored eight points to lead PRP (18-11), which scored just two points in the second quarter and trailed 16-9 at halftime.
Williams said the deliberate pace wasn’t in the game plan.
“We want to push the tempo and score 60 and above,” he said. “I told them that if the game was in the 40s that it wasn’t a good thing for us. I think our zone really bothered them because I don’t think they have a definitive outside shooter. The shooters they do have, we covered them pretty well.”
The Dragons took their biggest lead, 31-15, on Cam Maddox’s basket with 6:52 left in the fourth quarter before PRP rallied.
As Doss got sloppy with the ball, PRP took advantage and scored 11 straight points, pulling within 31-26 on B.J. Robinson’s putback basket with 4:02 left.
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But back-to-back baskets by Maddox and Stephon Franklin pushed Doss’ lead back to nine, 35-26, with 3:11 left and the Dragons hit 7 of 12 free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
While his teammates struggled from the field, Hall finished 6 of 13 and posted game-highs in points (18) and rebounds (nine).
“He’s 6-6 and he can play positions one through five in Kentucky high school basketball,” Williams said. “I don’t think there’s another player who can do that and be that versatile. When we need him to hit the boards, he hits the boards. When we need him to go strong, he goes strong. When we need him to handle the ball, he handles the ball. He’s been doing it all year.”
Franklin finished with 10 points and Maddox pitched in nine for the Dragons.
For Mabrey, it marked the end to an injury-filled season.
“We had about three games where everybody was together,” he said. “God, what could it have been? We’d get on a roll, and then three more would go and we’d fall down. It’s been so frustrating. I’ve never gone through this. Hopefully the good Lord got it out of the way this year and next year we’ll be healthy.”
Jason Frakes can be reached at (502) 582-4046 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
DOSS 42, PLEASURE RIDGE PARK 29
Gerald Gray Jr. 6p; Trey Hill 7p; Darius Osborne 2p, 8r, 2b; B.J. Robinson 6p; Cyncer Wilson 8p.
Cam Maddox 9p; Stephon Franklin 10p; Jaylon Hall 18p, 9r; Terez Traynor 5p, 7r, 2b.