Power to the Purples!
Bowling Green will play in the Sweet Sixteen finals Sunday afternoon for the first time in school history.
The Purples earned that long-elusive championship date by beating Boyle County 68-58 in the semifinals of the 98th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen Saturday night in Rupp Arena.
That makes it an all-Western Kentucky title game: Bowling Green (31-5) vs. Owensboro (30-5) at 2 p.m.
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Owensboro beat the Purples twice during the regular season, 79-71 and 69-66.
Bowling Green had reached the semifinals twice before. It lost to eventual champ Covington Catholic last year, and to eventual champ Fairdale in 1991.
The third time was a charm as it led Boyle County most of the way in extending its school-record season victory total to 31.
Bowling Green Coach D.G. Sherrill said he's been coming to the state tournament for 23 years, and he's always wondered what it'd be like to have a team celebrated in the spectacle that accompanies the championship game.
"You think, man, maybe one of these days we'll have a chance to do something like that. But it seems out of reach.
"We've got 15 boys, and tonight it wasn't out of reach for them."
Bowling Green's "super sophomores" led the way.
DeAngelo Wilson, a quick-silver 5-foot-9 guard, had 17 points, 16 in the second half when he attacked the rim.
"How many big plays did he make?" Sherrill said. "He had no fear going in there."
Kyran Jones, 6-4, had 16 points and 14 rebounds. Terry Taylor, also 6-4, had 14 points and six rebounds.
Sherrill said that while he's still in awe when he steps inside Rupp Arena, his sophomores "might as well be playing in the backyard. They're not tight, and the moment's not too big for them."
Seniors Tucker Sine and Malik Carothers combined for 16 points and six rebounds.
"We tried to drive it down their throats and win the rebounding war," Sine said.
Boyle County, which upset Lexington Catholic and tournament favorite Ballard to get to the final four, couldn't find its mojo against Bowling Green, which shot well and dominated the boards.
"They came out and were the aggressor," Rebels Coach Steve Adams said. "They punched us in the mouth and we were on our heels the rest of the night."
After spotting Boyle County a 5-0 lead, the Purples went on a 13-0 run and were in front the rest of the night.
Bowling Green out-rebounded the Rebels 42-21, which impressed Sherrill. "When you've doubled them up on the boards, you've really accomplished something."
A night after Boyle County set a state record by going 40-for-47 on free throws against Ballard, it was 3-for-5 against the Purples.
"That's a definite indicator we weren't attacking," Adams said. "They were attacking us; we weren't attacking back."
Jeremiah Bell led the Rebels with 28 points. Hagen Tyler had 12 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Adams said this year's team is now "the standard-bearer for basketball at Boyle County High School" for setting a school record for wins (28), and for becoming the first to win a game in the Sweet Sixteen.
"I could not be prouder of a group of individuals than the group in that locker room hurting right now with Boyle County on their jerseys."