High School Basketball

100th boys’ Sweet Sixteen preview: Bowling Green vs. Graves County

Terry Taylor of Bowling Green and Chris Vogt (33) of Graves County will be key players in Wednesday’s Sweet Sixteen opener.
Terry Taylor of Bowling Green and Chris Vogt (33) of Graves County will be key players in Wednesday’s Sweet Sixteen opener.

Bowling Green

Region: 4th

Record: 32-2

Enrollment: 1,250

Coach’s résumé

D.G. Sherrill is 303-92 in 12 seasons at Bowling Green. This is the sixth time — and the fourth consecutive year — that he has led the Purples to the Sweet Sixteen.

Starters

2) DeAngelo Wilson, 5-9, Sr., 11.0 ppg

3) Zion Harmon, 5-9, 8th, 16.8 ppg

10) Jay Buser, 5-8, Jr., 2.1 ppg

13) Kyran Jones, 6-6, Sr., 11.4 ppg

21) Terry Taylor, 6-6, Sr., 17.4 ppg

How they got here

Bowling Green started this run as the No. 1 team in the state, according to the Herald-Leader preseason rankings. Sherrill said his squad took that distinction as a compliment — “It’s kind of a badge of honor that people think you have a pretty good basketball team” — but the Purples didn’t get caught up in that hype. They did, however, live up to it. Bowling Green lost only two games all season — and only one to an in-state team (Covington Catholic) — and enter this week with a 25-game winning streak. The Purples have won their five postseason games by an average of 28.6 points, and none of those games was closer than 17 points at the end.

Remember the name

He’s not even in high school yet, but Bowling Green guard Zion Harmon is already getting national attention. The Future 150 recruiting website ranks Harmon as the No. 1 eighth-grader in the nation, and he’s averaged 16.8 points per game for the Purples after moving to Kentucky from Tennessee last year. “He’s just such a complete product offensively,” Sherrill said. “There’s really not any holes in his game on the offensive end. He can score in multiple ways. His range is pretty crazy. He’s a good finisher, and he’s gotten a lot more aggressive this year off the bounce.” He’s also picked up his defense, and he’s blended in well with Bowling Green’s veteran players. “He didn’t come in and try to be the man,” Sherrill said. “He came in and tried to be part of their basketball team.”

Player to watch

Austin Peay signee Terry Taylor has more than 1,500 points and 1,000 rebounds for his career, and he’s been a starter on teams that have won 94 games (and counting) over the past three seasons. “He’s a great leader on and off the court,” Sherrill said. “He’s a very versatile player who has really developed a floor game. He can step out now and knock down threes. He’s good off the bounce. … And I think Terry Taylor is probably the best rebounder in the state.”

Sweet history

This is Bowling Green’s 16th appearance in the state tournament. The Purples’ 2015 run to the title game set the mark for the best showing in program history.

Graves County

Region: 1st

Record: 27-7

Enrollment: 1,292

Coach’s résumé

Josh Frick is 69-39 in three seasons at Graves County, where he also played and was an assistant coach for eight years before getting the top job.

Starters

4) Brady Wetherington, 6-0, Sr., 4.6 ppg

12) Jordyn Naranjo, 6-2, So., 11.4 ppg

14) Trevor Grant, 6-3, Jr., 6.8 ppg

33) Chris Vogt, 7-0, Sr., 16.8 ppg

44) Brenden Young, 6-6, Jr., 6.5 ppg

How they got here

Graves County had a couple of bumpy stretches throughout the season — and battled some injuries — before putting it together at the right time, winning the final 12 games heading into this week. The Eagles’ second-leading scorer, sophomore guard Ryan Mathis, went down with an injury late in the season and returned to action for the region semifinal game. Graves County beat Mayfield in overtime to win the region title and earn a spot in the Sweet Sixteen. “We’ve gone through so much as a team,” Frick said. “It’s made us tougher. I think we’re battle-tested.”

Climbing the ladder

Before becoming the Graves County head coach, Josh Frick learned under two big names in western Kentucky high school basketball — Allan Hatcher and Terry Birdsong. Frick played for Hatcher, who later hired Frick — still a college student at the time — to coach the middle school program before bringing him up to the high school staff shortly thereafter. He then coached under Birdsong, who led the Eagles to region titles in 2009 and 2013. “Those two guys are tremendous,” Frick said. “I learned so much from them. … Taking on so many roles in this program and to get to the state tournament for the first time as a head coach. I can’t describe the feeling.”

Player to watch

Northern Kentucky signee Chris Vogt averages 16.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game and will finish his career in the No. 2 spot on the state’s all-time blocked shots list, behind only J.R. VanHoose. He’s also shooting 70 percent from the floor, bringing a blend of size and skill not often seen in the state. “When you look at the game of basketball today, a lot of it is centered around the three-point shot,” Frick said. “And we play a totally different style because we want to utilize Chris. He’s just unique. He’s a special talent, and he affects the game so much.”

Sweet history

This is Graves County’s ninth appearance in the Sweet Sixteen. The Eagles advanced to the state semifinals in 2006, the school’s best finish.

 
Chris Ware | staff

Bowling Green vs. Graves County

What: First round of boys’ Sweet Sixteen basketball state tournament

Where: Rupp Arena

When: Noon Wednesday

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