A huge banner in the Fern Creek High School gymnasium warns that “The Creek Is Rising.”
It’s overflowing this week.
After a 65-51 victory over No. 8-ranked Pleasure Ridge Park on Tuesday, the Tigers backed it up with a 78-66 home win over No. 13 Doss on Friday to put the Sixth Region boys’ basketball race in flux as district tournaments approach Monday.
PRP and Doss have been considered the region’s top two teams all season, but Fern Creek has emerged as a legitimate dark horse — even if Tigers coach James Schooler downplayed the significance of the two victories.
“We just have to keep working,” he said. “To us it was an opportunity to play against two of the best programs in the city of Louisville right now. It gave us a chance to have that test right before districts.”
Joe Jackson posted 17 points and 15 rebounds and Daylin Johnson pitched in 17 points as the Tigers improved to 18-10.
Fern Creek shot 50 percent (30 of 60) and finished with 22 assists, led by Demetrius Stanton (seven) and Shawn Best (six).
The Tigers will open 24th District Tournament play at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Jeffersontown. The Chargers beat the Tigers 79-77 in overtime on Jan. 22.
“We’ve been telling our guys since Day One to work, work, work — every day, every second, every minute of the game,” Schooler said. “Now we’re 0-0, and it’s time to go make it to the regional.”
Dujuanta Weaver scored 23 points and Terrell Gray added 17 to lead Doss, which won the rebounding battle 32-29 but didn’t live up to its coach’s expectations.
“I’m a little disappointed in our effort as far as rebounding the ball and being tough,” said K.C. Goodin, whose Dragons will face the Butler-Iroquois winner in a 22nd District semifinal at Iroquois at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Doss put together a 10-0 run to take a 25-24 lead on Montrell Little’s two free throws with 3:36 left in the first half, but Fern Creek took control from there.
Jackson scored six points during a 12-2 surge, including a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Tigers a 36-27 halftime lead.
Jackson said his 15 rebounds were more important than his 17 points.
“I remember one practice all we did for two hours was straight rebounding, getting to the ball,” the 6-foot-7 Jackson said. “I make it my priority to get rebounds. Since I’m a team captain, I feel like if I don’t work at it nobody else will.”
Fern Creek kept the momentum out of the locker room, pushing its lead to 51-34 on Best’s 3-pointer with 3:40 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers led by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter before the Dragons closed the game with a 14-4 run.
After finishing 6-26 last season, Fern Creek already has accomplished one of the city’s top turnarounds this season. Jackson said Schooler, the Tigers’ first-year coach, deserves a lot of the credit.
“He’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for,” Jackson said. “I don’t think we were a bad team last year. We had a lot of talent. But we didn’t really have confidence. He brought confidence and energy to our team. He gets us to play hard.”