Dujuanta Weaver scored 30 points and Terell Gray added 19 points and 16 rebounds to lift Doss to a 66-63 comeback victory over Newport Central Catholic on Saturday in a first-round King of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic game at Fairdale High School.
The Dragons (4-0) and No. 10 in The Courier-Journal’s preseason coaches’ poll, trailed 24-10 after Luke Moeves banked in a 30-foot 3-point shot at the end of the first quarter. As his team came to the sideline facing its largest deficit of the game, Doss coach Tony Williams had just one thing on his mind: “settle down.”
In preparing for the No. 4 Thoroughbreds (3-1), Williams said his team thought Newport Central Catholic’s big men were 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-8. In reality, none are taller than 6-foot-7.
“We had built some monsters, put some monsters inside of their heads,” Williams said. “And once we settled down, we realized they’re just regular humans just like us. I think that’s when our passion and our defense kicked in.”
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It’s also when Gray unleashed a monster performance, scoring 14 points and pulling down 12 boards in the second half. While the 6-foot-3 swingman prefers to play more along the perimeter, Williams knows he can dominate inside against bigger forwards.
“Gray is a freak athlete and he can get us out of situation that other people can’t,” his coach said.
After shooting 55.2 percent in the first half, Newport Central Catholic hit 8 of 22 shots in the second and missed all six 3-point attempts. Coach Ron Dawn, though, didn’t think his team became fatigued. Instead, he felt his team’s foul trouble — two starters picked up three fouls in the first quarter — was a bigger problem.
“We’ve got to play smarter defensively,” he said. “We got to guard and not foul.”
Grant Moeves hit a 3-pointer with 2:04 left in the first half to extend Newport Central Catholic’s lead to 37-26. That’s when Doss started its comeback, scoring the final seven points in the half. Jaylon Hall’s 3 with 10 seconds left made it 37-33 at halftime.
“From then on, I knew we had it,” Gray said. “We just had to keeping grinding and fight hard.”
Gray’s layup 13 seconds into the half cut the Newport Central Catholic lead to two. A minute later, Weaver’s 3 gave Doss its first lead. The Dragons took the lead for good at the start of the fourth quarter, building it to as many as seven before the Thoroughbreds chipped away, giving themselves a chance to tie at the end.
Zach Pangallo’s potential game-tying 3 was off the mark. Gray pulled down the rebound and ran out the clock.
“We all stayed together, even when we were down,” Weaver said.
Williams said his teammates always had the belief they were among the best in the state, but he wanted to see proof. In coming back against a top-five opponent and giving Doss its first King of the Bluegrass win, he said they did.
“It builds character,” Williams said of the win. “It builds team chemistry. It gives us the confidence that we can beat anybody in the state.”
The win sets up another top-10 battle for the Dragons, who will face No. 9 Owensboro in the late quarterfinal Sunday night. Newport Central Catholic also gets a ranked foe, No. 18 Bardstown, for its consolation round match. Both games are scheduled to start at 9 p.m.
|Newport Cent. Cath.||24||13||9||17||–||63|
Doss (4-0) – Weaver 30, Hargrove 2, McCarley 3, Hall 4, Gray 19, McCloud 4, Collins 4.
Newport Central Catholic (3-1) – Pangallo 12, G. Moeves 5, Anderson 7, L. Moeves 3, Freppon 1, McDonald 18, Weyer 17.
3-point goals – Weaver 4, McCarley, Hall, Gray, Pangallo 2, G. Moeves, L. Moeves.