Boys' Sweet Sixteen: Bowling Green breaks away from McCracken County 64-58

mmaloney@herald-leader.comMarch 21, 2014 

When things didn't go Bowling Green's way on offense Friday, the Purples knew how to butter their bread.

With defense.

Which is how Bowling Green came from behind to upend McCracken County 64-58 in the quarterfinals of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys' Sweet Sixteen.

"We had to grind it out today," Coach D.G. Sherrill said. "I think at one time we were shooting 25, 26 percent from the field, so we weren't hitting shots; we were missing layups. ... What we had to do then was be great defensively. We had to hunker down in the half-court, try to take away the driving lanes, try to get on the weak side."

The sixth-rated Purples did all that and also found their shooting touch on the Rupp Arena floor.

After shooting 28.6 percent in the first half (8 of 28), Bowling Green hit 57.1 percent (12 of 21) the rest of the way.

Tucker Sine led Bowling Green (29-6) with 19 points and five rebounds. Nacarius Fant — Mr. Football — added 12 points. Joseph Ayers had eight points, five rebounds and five blocks. Cheivy McCutchen also had eight points.

"They really gave us fits today," Sherrill said. "They're real aggressive off the bounce and their bigs banged on us pretty good. But I'm just proud of our guys.

"It's been 1991 since Bowling Green High has been in a Final Four and we're just proud to be here. We have worked hard for this and our guys have been committed all year long."

No. 16 McCracken (25-9), in its first year of existence, led 25-21 at halftime.

Soon after Bowling Green used a 9-0 run to take a 16-10 lead, McCracken came back with a 13-0 flurry that made it 25-19.

That outburst was punctuated at the end by Kam Chumbler's four-point play — a three-point basket and free throw — and a three-pointer by Jared Burnett.

The Mustangs led 37-34 through three quarters.

Bowling Green broke it open in the fourth quarter, outscoring McCracken 22-9, to take a 56-46 lead. Sine, a 6-foot-2 junior, had 12 of those 22 points that included a go-ahead, three-point bank shot from the top of the key to make it 45-44.

"In the first half, we struggled offensively and, in the second half, I just tried to do what I needed to do to help my team win, try to knock down some open shots and make my free throws," Sine said. As for his bank shot, he added, "That was all luck. I didn't call that."

McCracken came only as close as four points with about 10 seconds left, when Sergio Vega hit a three-pointer. But Sine's two free throws with 4.5 seconds left sealed the win.

Bowling Green enjoyed a 24-16 points advantage in the paint and committed only five turnovers while forcing 15.

The Purples shot 40.8 percent overall (20 of 49), to McCracken's 43.6 percent (17 of 39).

Bowling Green shot 18 of 30 at the free-throw line, where the Mustangs went 17 of 25.

"Bowling Green's quick and their athletic," McCracken Coach Burlin Brower said. "They got in the passing lanes on us a few times. ... We had a hard time getting into anything because of their pressure on the wings."

Chumbler led the Mustangs with 17 points, one more than Burnett. Caleb Stonecipher had eight points and led all rebounders with eight.

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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