LEXINGTON – Kyran Jones and Terry Taylor grabbed back-to-back offensive rebounds and earned their first points off of tip-ins in the first 28 seconds of the game, showing early that they would be tough to handle inside the lane.
The two seniors, who are both very experienced, went on to score 12 combined points in the first quarter alone before finishing with 44 points and 18 rebounds in Bowling Green’s hard-fought 80-79 win over Covington Scott on Saturday in the 100th
Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys Sweet Sixteen semifinals at Rupp Arena.
The Purples’ star post players’ size advantage, athleticism and strength would be too much for the undersized Eagles to maintain – and is a big reason why BG was able to advance to the state championship game for just the second time in school history.
“It kind of just goes back to practice and when we play 4-on-4,” Taylor said. “We just crashed the glass and went hard. Coach always stresses that we always have to keep fighting on the boards and just keep going – and that’s what we were able to do.”
Taylor led the way with 26 points and 12 rebounds while Jones finished with 18 and six. Zion Harmon added 18 points, four rebounds and two assists while Deangelo Wilson scored 12 points and dished out 8 assists.
Bowling Green (35-2) shot 59 percent (33-of-56) from the field and outrebounded Scott 29-25, but the Eagles (23-13) hit 10 three-pointers and forced nine Purples turnovers to help them make things interesting in the fourth quarter, outscoring BG 26-19.
The Purples now meet Cooper on Sunday at 1 p.m. (CT) for the state title.
Bowling Green came out of the gates looking like they were easily going win and move on to the title game, taking a 17-4 lead with 2:45 remaining in the opening quarter. Taylor was already up to 10 points on 5-of-5 shooting to go along with four rebounds.
Scott fired right back.
Trailing by 13, the Eagles came out of a timeout and showed a new side of themselves, putting their feet on the gas and outscoring the Purples 10-4 throughout the remainder of the first to just trail 21-14 after one.
“They (Scott) was being the more aggressive basketball team,” head coach D.G. Sherrill said. “I told our guys when they get to the hotel tonight to pull up the last five NCAA champions – and I promise you that there’s a game in there where a team had to claw and scratch to get a win.”
Bowling Green saw its lead fade to just one early into the second quarter, as Scott splashed four attempts from downtown over the course of three minutes to make it 27-26 at the 5:15 mark. The Purples battled back with a 10-2 run – powered by back-to-back baskets by Jones – and soon took a 39-30 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
At the break, Taylor already had 16 points and 8 rebounds for while Jones had eight points for BG – who shot a hot 66.7 percent (18-of-27) from the field and earned 26 points from inside the paint. Jake Ohmer was leading Scott with 11 points, despite it going 9-of-25 (36 percent).
Bowling Green held an eight-point lead with 1:22 left in the third, as the scoreboard read 57-49 following an acrobatic layup by Wilson. The Purples ended the quarter on a Taylor bucket and two Harmon foul shots to be up 61-53 entering the final eight minutes of action.
The packed crowd at Rupp would get its money’s worth in a highly-intriguing fourth quarter.
Scott cut into the Purples’ lead on a pair of Chad Ohmer free-throws at the 4:26 mark before making it 72-71 after his brother, Jake Ohmer’s deep three with 2:41 left. A made free-throw from Jake Pusateri and Vincent Dumlao’s layup gave the Eagles a 77-74 lead with 1:04 left to tick.
“Coach (Sherrill) just told us to stay calm and keep our composure,” Taylor stated. “We’ve been in this position before. We can’t hang our heads down whenever we lose a lead – we just have to keep fighting and keep going – and that’s what we did.”
The two sides exchanged points over the next minute, but Harmon’s tough layup with 21.1 seconds remaining – by far the play of the game – put Bowling Green back in front at 80-79.
“Basicially, I knew we needed a bucket to get up and advance to the state championship – and that’s what was on my mind,” Harmon said of his big-time bucket. “I knew how bad these seniors wanted it and how bad I wanted it.”
Scott would draw up a play to get the sharp-shooter Jake Ohmer an open look from outside, but the Purples’ defense kept him from doing that and made the guard drive. Ohmer dribbled into the paint from the right wing and threw up a runner – no good.
“I can’t say enough about the opponent we just played,” Sherrill noted. “We knew how good they were, but that’s the first time this postseason we’ve had to finish a game like that. Scott High School has a phenomenal basketball team and their kids are really resilient.”
Ohmer, a University of the Cumberlands commit, finished with 33 points, 8 rebounds and five assists in his final high school contest.
With Bowling Green’s survival, it has now won 28-straight games – having not lost since falling to Covington Catholic in the King of the Bluegrass tournament back on Dec. 20 at Fairdale High School.-Follow Sporting Times High School Insider Tyler Mansfield on Twitter @CallMeMansfield–