Regional review, Monday 3/10
Notes and thoughts from day 3 of the boys 12th Region Tournament at Pulaski County:
- Lincoln County defeated Pulaski County 62-47; West Jessamine defeated Somerset 66-51. Lincoln plays West Jessamine for the championship tonight.
- Lincoln looked to be taking the express lane to the championship game when it pulled out to a 16-2 lead by hitting its first six shots, including three 3-pointers. But as one coach said during the game, “It’s hard to blow somebody out in the semifinals.” And so Pulaski recovered to pull within seven points by the end of the first quarter, and the Maroons took a 23-22 lead on Caleb Rowe’s 3-pointer with 4:00 left in the first half. The Patriots reopened a 10-point lead in the third quarter and were never threatened down the stretch.
- Ethan Spurlin led Lincoln with 19 points, just ahead of Ryan Young with 18 and Noah Keeton with 17. Shawn Whitis had 13 points and Chris Muse had 12 for Pulaski.
- This was the second straight year that Lincoln has elminated Pulaski. The Patriots won a first-round game in last year’s regional 70-49.
- Somerset had to feel good about its semifinal matchup after having beaten West Jessamine by nine during the regular season, but the Colts were in control of the rematch for all but a few minutes of the first quarter. Somerset’s last lead was at 9-8, and West Jessamine led 20-14 by the end of the period.
The shooting statistics for both teams were interesting in this game. West Jessamine made the most of its 33 field-goal attempts, hitting 21 of them to shoot 64 percent. The Colts were 5-for-12 from 3-point range and 21-for-33 at the free-throw line. Somerset took more than twice as many shots from behind the 3-point line as from in front of it, going 12-for-25 on 3-point attempts and just 4-for-12 on 2-point attempts to shoot 43 percent overall.
- Gulian Blanton led five West Jessamine players in double figures, followed by Daniel Rehner (12), Jared Polson (11), Mike Lee (10) and Nick Jeffrey (10). Somerset was led by reserve Aaron Dockery with 12 points, followed by John Coomer with 11 and Cory Price with 10.
- Pulaski’s gym, by far the largest in the region, was nearly full for the first game. The semifinal crowd was probably the largest at a regional session in several years. They were packed in at Lincoln for the most recent South Laurel-vs.-North Laurel title game in 2005, but the crowd at Pulaski on Monday couldn’t have fit in Lincoln’s gym.
- Tonight’s title game is a rematch of a Dec. 15 game in Nicholasville, which Lincoln won 55-49. Last year, Lincoln’s closest shave in the regional came in a 40-39 semifinal win over West Jessamine in which Zach Fain, who has since graduated, scored 30 of the Colts’ 39 points and missed a last shot that could have given them the win.
- Lincoln will be trying to win its second straight regional title and its fourth overall. The Patriots’ previous titles came in 1975, 1980 and 2007. With a win, Lincoln would become the first team to win consecutive 12th Region titles since Boyle County in 1998 and 1999. West Jessamine will be trying to win the first regional title for a Jessamine County school since Jessamine County was split into two schools in the 1990s. Before the split, Jessamine County won one 11th Region championship in 1990. West Jessamine has appeared in one regional final, losing to Henry Clay in the title game of the 2003 11th Region Tournament.
- The Other 15: Adair County, the team that defeated Lincoln in the first round of last year’s Boys Sweet Sixteen and was favored to return to Rupp Arena from the 5th Region, was eliminated with a 63-58 semifinal loss to Central Hardin. … Pleasure Ridge Park, the favorite in the 6th Region, also fell victim to the upset bug, losing 62-59 to Central in a semifinal. … South Laurel and Corbin defeated Lynn Camp and Knox Central to advance to the 13th Region title game, which will be their 11th meeting in three seasons since South Laurel joined the 13th Region and 50th District. The Cardinals have won all but one of the previous 10 games. … The 8th Region winner, which plays the 12th Region champion in the first round of the boys state tourney, won’t be determined until Wednesday. Tonight’s semifinals match Shelby County vs. South Oldham and Gallatin County vs. North Oldham. … The bracket for the Girls Sweet Sixteen was filled with nine snow-delayed title games Monday night. In the 3rd Region, Ohio County defeated Muhlenberg North 63-56 to advance to a Wednesday night first-round game against 12th Region winner Rockcastle County. The Lady Rockets wouldn’t have minded playing Muhlenberg North again, because they beat the Lady Stars by 29 points in a holiday tournament. … Henry Clay completed an improbable run through the girls 11th Region with its second upset in as many nights, beating Lexington Catholic 47-43 for the title one day after knocking off top-ranked Paul Dunbar.
- First-round matchups for the Girls Sweet Sixteen, in bracket order: Wednesday, DuPont Manual (7th Region) vs. South Laurel (13th), 1 p.m.; Rowan County (16th) vs. Breathitt County (14th), 2:30 p.m.; Marshall County (1st) vs. Butler (6th), 7:30 p.m.; Rockcastle County (12th) vs. Ohio County (3rd), 9 p.m. Thursday, Conner (9th) vs. Henderson County (2nd), 1 p.m.; Johnson Central (15th) vs. Elizabethtown (5th), 2:30 p.m.; Simon Kenton (8th) vs. Franklin-Simpson (4th), 7:30 p.m.; Henry Clay (11th) vs. Montgomery County (10th), 9 p.m.