A Kentucky-based sequel to “Hoosiers” will have to wait at least another year to be written.
Bowling Green, the favorite to win the 100th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen, held off an upset bid from the “misfit” Eagles from Covington Scott, upending the underdogs 80-79 in the semifinals Saturday night at Rupp Arena.
Zion Harmon, an eighth-grader who transferred to Bowling Green from Tennessee this season, hit a go-ahead jumper in the paint with 23 seconds left to send the Purples to Sunday.
“Basically, I knew we needed a bucket to get up and get to the state championship, and that was all that was on my mind: advance to the next game,” Harmon said. “I knew how bad these seniors wanted it and how bad I wanted it. I don’t like to lose, and I definitely don’t wanna go out in my season with an ‘L.’”
Scott star Jake Ohmer had a game-winning runner bounce off the glass with 3 seconds left. He finished with a game-high 33 points on 11-for-24 shooting.
The Purples advanced to the championship game for the second time in school history. They lost to Owensboro, 74-58, in the finals of the 2015 tournament. Bowling Green will play Cooper at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Terry Taylor made his first five shots from the field and was two rebounds of a double-double at halftime for the Purples. He finished with 26 points and 12 rebounds, leading his team in both categories.
He also tracked down Ohmer’s miss near the end. Taylor, a senior who’s signed with Austin Peay, didn’t get the rebound but prevented Scott’s Nelson Perrin from getting a clean putback off before time expired.
“The scouting report didn’t lie when coach drew it up,” Taylor said of Ohmer. “… He’s not a slouch, and he showed tonight that he’s one of top scorers in the state of Kentucky.”
That holds true not just for this season but in the history of the Sweet Sixteen. Ohmer finished with 106 points in three Sweet Sixteen games, tying Mike Redd (Seneca, 1963) for the 13th most all-time in a state tournament.
“I’ll tell you this right now, you could’ve taken this,” said Scott Coach Steve Fromeyer, pointing at a stat sheet, “and burned it, because he wouldn’t have cared just to have that shot go in.”
Scott, whose tallest player is listed at 6 feet, trailed most of the way and looked overwhelmed early. Bowling Green jumped out to a 17-4 lead, but Scott ended the first quarter on a 10-4 run to pull within seven points. The Eagles got to within 27-26 after a Vincent Dumlao three-pointer with 5:16 left in the second quarter, but Bowling Green responded with a 9-0 run and took a nine-point lead into the locker room.
Bowling Green led 61-53 heading into the fourth quarter. The Eagles kept chipping away and took their first lead of the game, 75-74, after senior Jake Pusateri made the first of two free-throw attempts with 1:32 left in the contest.
Vincent Dumlao made a layup on Scott’s next possession to put the Eagles up three with 1:04 left. A tip-in by Jarius Key put Bowling Green back ahead, 78-77, with 40 seconds left, but Scott’s Jaycob Pouncy hit a pair of free throws to put his team back up a point with 29 seconds to go.
“We stretched it out there a few times and they just kept coming back, delivering body blow after body blow to us,” Bowling Green Coach DG Sherrill said. “I told some guys on the bench, sometimes you’d rather be lucky than good. This is a great time to be lucky, because they could have very easily won this basketball game.”
The Eagles had lost seven of their last 11 games coming into the postseason. Scott upset Campbell County in the 10th Region finals and knocked off bigger foes Harlan County and Perry County Central in the preceding rounds at state.
Said Fromeyer: “Fifteen years from now when they all have beer bellies at Thanksgiving and they’re out playing with their kids in the driveway ... it’s something that they all got to experience together, they’re all upset about together.”