A matchup between the top two teams in the state lived up to its billing until the fourth quarter of the first quarterfinal of the 100th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen on Friday afternoon in Rupp Arena.
Bowling Green, ranked second in the state, defeated No. 1 Scott County, 68-53, to advance to the semifinals for the third time in the last four seasons. The Purples, who have lost only two games all year, will play Covington Scott in Saturday night’s semifinals.
Box score: Bowling Green 68, Scott County 53
After Scott County pulled to within 50-49 on a Michael Moreno dunk to start the final quarter, Bowling Green finished the contest on an 18-4 run. Scott County went 1-for-13 from the field after Moreno’s slam.
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Bowling Green was 12-of-13 from the foul line in the fourth quarter and went 20-of-23 for the game. The Purples led wire to wire.
“That was probably the most complete fourth quarter, especially on defense, that we’ve played,” Purples Coach D.G. Sherrill said. “When Scott County turns the heat up, they really, really turn the heat up. … We haven’t played a lot of teams that crawled up in us the way that they did.”
Scott County missed its first seven shots before Bryce Long ended the drought with a layup off an inbound from Cooper Robb, the first of four straight makes for the Cardinals. They trailed by three after the first period.
Bowling Green built a 33-27 halftime lead. The Purples finished with an 18-12 advantage on the offensive glass and a 34-24 overall edge on the boards. Terry Taylor led the way with 14 rebounds (six on offense) and matched teammate Deangelo Wilson with a game-high 20 points.
“That might be the first time this year we’ve been outrebounded,” said Scott County Coach Billy Hicks, who was denied an opportunity to compete for a record third Sweet Sixteen title as a coach. The range of Taylor, Wilson and eighth-grader Zion Harmon made it tough for the Cardinals’ guards to keep Bowling Green’s big men off the glass.
Kyran Jones had 10 rebounds for the Purples. Key Jones came off the bench and was a bruiser inside despite finishing with only two boards.
“He just goes in and bangs the heck out of you inside, he cleans you out and then you’ve got Taylor and Jones there,” Hicks said. “ … You gotta give Bowling Green credit. Rebounds don’t jump in your hands, you gotta go get it.”
Cooper Watts, one of three seniors (Dakoda Allen and Caleb Covington) who will graduate from Scott County, finished with 10 points and three blocks.
Michael Moreno led Scott County with 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting. He never looked comfortable during the Cards’ two state tournament games; Hicks revealed after the loss that his star sophomore had been dealing with illness and a knee problem since the regional tournament. Moreno participated in one complete practice over the last two weeks.
“People didn’t see the real Michael Moreno,” Hicks said. “He’s got time to prove that, though. He’s got a lot of time left.”