On Friday, the Tigers, the No. 8 team in The Courier-Journal’s preseason coaches’ poll, passed their first test. Chance Moore scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the visitors past Doss, the two-time defending Sixth Region champions, 83-70.
Don’t tell the Tigers (2-0) it’s just the first week of the season. Moore said the game, which was played in front of a near-capacity crowd at Derek Anderson Court, was like a championship environment and that’s how they treated the game.
“Just because all the social media, everything hyping this game up,” he said. “We talked about it on the radio.”
Early on it was the Tigers doing most of the talking as Schooler urged his kids to apply pressure defense from the opening tip. That allowed the Tigers to build an 18-8 lead just six minutes into the contest.
The No. 11 Dragons (1-1), though, found their footing in the second quarter, and even took a 39-38 lead with 1:20 left in the first half. However, the Tigers used a 9-2 run from that point to pull away. Moore turned a driving layup into a three-point play with :00.8 left to put the Tigers up 47-41 at the break.
Whereas the younger Tigers in seasons past would have let that lead melt away, this year’s team built on it. The closest the Dragons got the rest of the way was 56-51 midway through the third quarter after Stephon Franklin nailed a 3-pointer and then followed that with a transition layup.
The Tigers’ lead would grow to as much as 15 in the game’s waning moments.
“I just think it’s because of the tough scheduling we’ve played over the years,” Schooler said. “We’ve been in so many tough environments, so many tough situations. So, we’ve learned how to handle the ball.”
While the Tigers showed their toughness, Doss coach Tony Williams said his team lost the game by failing to do execute the fundamentals. To start the fourth quarter, Fern Creek ended up pulling down four consecutive offensive rebounds to keep the possession alive before DaiQuan Jones finished a putback that gave Fern Creek a 64-53 lead.
“We missed eight of the 10 keys to victory that were on the board…Little things that we work on everyday,” Williams said.
It was Jones only bucket, but he pulled down eight of the Tigers’ 30 rebounds. It was also plays like that that Moore said showed the Tigers are the toughest team in the region.
“We’re not trying to hype everybody up,” he said. “We’re trying to show them what we really can do.”
Jaylon Hall led Doss with 21 points. Terez Traynor added 16, while Franklin finished with 15.
Ahmad Price added 16 points for Fern Creek, which also got 15 from Tony Rogers and 13 from Anthony Wales.