Playing without its leading scorer and rebounder, Cooper managed to stun Paul Laurence Dunbar, 57-55, in the quarterfinals of the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic Wednesday evening at Lexington Catholic.
Adam Kunkel, a junior, led Cooper with 27 points. Sean McNeil, a Bellarmine signee who averaged 17.6 points and 8.1 rebounds for the Jaguars, suffered a knee injury in Cooper’s 91-63 win over West Jessamine on Monday. Cooper Coach Tim Sullivan said it is believed to just be a strain but an MRI is forthcoming.
Dunbar took 11 more shots than Cooper but made just as many — 20 of 52 compared to 20 of 41 for the Jaguars (7-3), who are expected to contend for the 9th Region title this season.
Taveion Hollingsworth had 23 points and 10 rebounds, leading the Bulldogs (7-4) in both categories. Dunbar outrebounded the Jags, 33-28, as a team and led for much of the first half — including a 12-2 start — but could never recover from a 30-27 halftime deficit which swelled to 39-29 at the start of the second half.
“The game plan on defense, pretty much, was to pack the paint and make them shoot jump shots,” said Kunkel. “ … It was a grind-out game and that’s exactly what we did, grind it out.”
An NBA-range three-pointer by Hollingsworth pulled Dunbar within a point with nine seconds to play. Cooper went 1-for-2 at the line and Hollingsworth got to the left elbow for a potential game-tying jumper but it was short.
Dante Hendrix, a Class of the Commonwealth selection who’s signed to play football for Indiana State, had eight points, seven rebounds and three steals for Cooper, which will play the winner between Lafayette and Perry County Central, whose contest was scheduled to tip off at 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Dunbar gets Fayette County (Ga.), which lost to Paris on a final-seconds shot, in the consolation round at 4 p.m. Thursday.
Cooper 57, Paul Laurence Dunbar 55
Cooper (7-3) — Hendrix 8, Kunkel 27, Ollier 6, Runion 7, C. McNeil 4, Walters 5.
Dunbar (7-4) — Richardson 10, Yeast 3, Corio 1, JaQuice Gray 6, Hollingsworth 23, Gadd 4, Ifeacho 5, JaQuon Gray 3.