Doss, leading 56-53 with just over three minutes left in the fourth quarter, scored 13 of the game’s last 18 points Friday to knock off Taylor County 69-58 and book a trip to Saturday’s semifinals of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen.
After the Dragons threatened to run away with it against Taylor County’s Cardinals on a couple of occasions, Taylor twice fought back to within one possession.
The Cardinals trailed by double digits after Doss shot over 61 percent from the field in the first quarter and 50 percent in the second. Taylor County was sitting in a 10-point hole with 1:15 left in the third quarter, but the Cardinals punched back. A 7-0 flurry pulled Taylor to within three at 48-45 after Dylan Gaines’ steal led to DeJohn Irvin’s fast-break layup at the buzzer.
The teams traded shots in the fourth quarter until Doss pulled away with its closing surge.
After Quentin Goodin went for 28 points and 12 rebounds in the Cardinals’ first-round demolition of Mason County, the Dragons held the Mr. Basketball finalist to just 12 points on three-of-10 shooting. Goodin, who averaged 23.1 points on the year and is signed to play at Xavier University, scored just two points in the second half while battling foul trouble.
Doss Coach Tony Williams credited the Dragons’ defensive plan for bottling up Goodin and holding Taylor County to just 36.7 percent shooting as a team on the night.
“We designed (the defense) just to be able to keep up with the likes of Quentin Goodin,” Williams said. “He’s such an incredible talent … that just shows you how much we respect him, that we knew we had to slow him down.”
Four of the Dragons’ five starters finished in double-figure scoring. Jaylon Hall led the team with 15 points and swiped two backbreaking steals that led to four Dragons points during the decisive closing minutes.
The Cardinals were led in scoring by junior guard David Sloan, who put up 14 points but hit just five of 15 field goals. Fellow junior Ezra Oliver pitched in 12. Oliver said losing the game wasn’t nearly as hard as facing the knowledge that this was the last time he’d share a locker room with the Cardinals’ seniors.
“We’re gonna come back next year stronger, but it’s hard to think about that right now,” Oliver said. “We’ve wanted this for a long time, and we got this far and just thinking that I’ll never play another game with them again just kills me.”
Doss will face South Laurel in Saturday’s second semifinal match, looking to make its first state finals appearance since 1980, when it lost to Owensboro 57-56.
“I don’t ask them to do a lot for me,” Williams said. “But I asked them to do this for me, I asked them to take me to a place I’ve never been before … and now I’m gonna ask them to win again tomorrow and take us to Sunday at 2 p.m.”
Josh Sullivan; 859-231-3225 @sullyjosh