Regional review, Monday 3/8
News and notes from day 3 of the boys 12th Region Tournament at Pulaski County:
- West Jessamine defeated Boyle County 60-52; Mercer County defeated Pulaski County 72-63. West Jessamine (25-7) will play Mercer (22-9) for the championship at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
- It’s a rematch of the 46th District championship, this time with a trip to the Boys Sweet Sixteen on the line. West Jessamine will be trying to win its second straight regional title; Mercer is bidding for its first since 2000. (More on the matchup below.)
- Mercer withstood the one good run Pulaski (13-18) had, then answered with one of its own to clinch its spot in the title game. The Titans led 50-42 midway through the third quarter before being outscored 15-6 over the next four minutes or so and seeing Pulaski take a 58-57 lead with 7:48 remaining. But Mercer then outscored the Maroons 11-1 over about five minutes to take a 67-58 lead with 2:34 to play, and it held Pulaski without a field goal for 6:11.
- The Titans shot 48 percent from the field and hit six of 13 3-point attempts, but they were shaky at the free throw line, where they were 1 for 7 in the final 1:08 — after making their previous nine shots — and 15 for 25 overall.
- Clay Cinnamon led another balanced Mercer attack with 17 points. Aaron Lee and Jake Mayes added 10 points each, followed by Kasey McRay and Jamel Taylor with nine each, Lyndon Compton with eight and Austin Sagraves with seven. Taylor had a team-high eight rebounds. Tyler Jenkins had 26 points and nine rebounds for Pulaski, and he totaled 87 points in his last three postseason games after Somerset held him to eight in a 47th District semifinal. Zach Eastham scored 22 points for the Maroons before being forced out by an ankle injury in the fourth quarter.
- Boyle (19-9) had no answer for West Jessamine star Jarrod Polson, not that anyone in the 12th Region really does. Polson scored 40 points, including 20 of 22 in a run that allowed the Colts to turn an 11-3 deficit into a 25-18 lead. He was 10 for 13 from the field in the first half, when he scored 24 points, and scored all but two of his 16 second-half points at the foul line.
- The Rebels never regained the lead after West Jessamine went in front in the second quarter, though they stayed close throughout the second half. The Colts shot 50 percent from the field but were just 2 for 7 in the second half, when they hit 20 of 28 free throws to seal their win. In the first half, West Jessamine was 14 for 25 and Boyle was 14 for 26 from the field.
- Cory Jones led Boyle with 18 points, and Jacob Bodner added 15. Michael Arnett had 10 rebounds for the Rebels.
- Both of tonight’s losing teams engineered impressive turnarounds before seeing their seasons end. Boyle nearly reversed its win-loss record of a year ago, which was 8-19. Pulaski began this season 0-5, was 2-10 on Jan. 1 and was 5-16 before winning eight of its last 10 games, with its only losses coming to West Jessamine late in the regular season and to Mercer.
- West Jessamine has won two of three meetings with Mercer this season. Mercer won 68-64 at home on Jan. 4, West Jessamine won 88-74 at home on Jan. 22, and the Colts won 69-64 in overtime on Feb. 26 in the 46th District title game at East Jessamine. West Jessamine holds a 9-3 lead in the series since joining Mercer in the 46th in 2005, and the Colts have won the only two postseason meetings, a district semifinal in 2006 and the district final 12 days ago.
- Mercer won its only other regional title in 2000 came by beating a district rival in the title game. The team then known as the Scotties defeated Harrodsburg 56-49 in the final at Wayne County after losing two of three games to the Pioneers earlier in the season, including the district final. That Mercer team coached by Stacey Hall took a 15-16 record to the Boys Sweet Sixteen, where the Scotties lost to Scott County 95-47 in the first round.
- The Titans and Colts already know who they’ll play at the state tournament if they win Tuesday. Muhlenberg County (20-10) has earned a state berth in its first year of existence, capturing the 3rd Region championship with a 64-50 win over Apollo tonight. Muhlenberg will play the 12th Region champion at noon March 18 in the first round of the Boys Sweet Sixteen.