High School Basketball

Cinderella Colts keep on winning

The St. Patrick's Day Parade last weekend didn't last as long as West Jessamine's parade to the free-throw line in the quarterfinals of the 92nd National City Boys' Sweet Sixteen in Rupp Arena Friday afternoon.

After what seemed like an endless final four minutes, West Jessamine walked off with a 72-67 victory over Grayson County and a spot in Saturday morning's final four.

West Jessamine hit 23 of 29 foul shots in the fourth quarter, most of them coming in the closing minutes when Grayson County's strategy was to send the Colts to the free-throw line, then counter with a three-pointer.

"That might've been the longest four minutes of my life," West Jessamine Coach Robert Hammonds said.

The Cougars hit eight threes in the quarter, but West Jessamine cashed in enough free throws to win its 11th game in a row and advance to the semifinals in its first state tournament appearance.

"At the beginning of the season, no one would've thought we'd get this far," said Colts junior star Jarrod Polson. "If you'd told me we'd be in the final four of the state, I'd have been shocked. It's kind of unreal right now."

Polson led West Jessamine with 22 points, including eight of 11 free throws, nine rebounds and seven assists.

"The Polson kid controlled the whole basketball game," Grayson County Coach Todd Johnston said.

Jonathan Rehner (14 points, eight rebounds), Nick Ziemann (13 points) and Dylan Pohl (10 points) gave Polson plenty of support.

That trio, along with Randy Troyer, also combined to hit 18 of 25 foul shots and spoil Grayson County's late-game plan.

The Cougars were able to trim a nine-point deficit to 55-52 with 3:17 left, but West Jessamine answered the threat at the foul line.

"They just wouldn't let us come back," Johnston said. "They hit their free throws. They did what they were supposed to do."

Johnston credited the Colts' defense for his team's "sluggish" first half.

"Their matchup zone is hard to play against," he said. "They force you to make shots, and we couldn't."

Grayson County was also hurt by Bennett Skaggs' early foul trouble.

"He's the heart and soul of our team," Johnston said. "He's our inspiration. He does so many things for us, it hurt us when he wasn't in there."

Travis Johnston, a junior guard and the coach's nephew, led the Cougars with 26 points, including four threes in the fourth quarter.

Aaron Deviney had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the 3rd Region champs, who finished the season 26-7.

West Jessamine, meanwhile, will play on.

Hammonds said his team's role as Sweet Sixteen Cinderella is taking form.

"The slipper's fitting right now," he said.

But no matter what happens Saturday, Hammonds said the Colts have already accomplished something special.

"I've known so many great coaches and so many great players who went on to play in the NBA that never made it to Saturday morning in Kentucky high school ball," he said.

"There's really no pressure on us now. We've gotten everything we can get out of our players, so why not just go play?"

West Jessamine will face Central, another long shot, in Saturday morning's semifinals. The winner will get the last dance on Saturday night.

Grayson Co. 67

NAME mi fg-a 3-pt ft-a rb a pf tp

Skaggs 17 0-3 0-0 2-2 4 4 5 2

Deviney 29 6-11 2-5 0-0 10 0 5 14

Smith 27 3-12 3-10 0-0 2 0 4 9

Johnston 31 9-19 4-11 4-7 1 4 4 26

Gary 10 0-2 0-1 0-0 2 0 1 0

Saltsman 10 2-4 2-3 1-2 3 0 5 7

Bratcher 15 2-4 1-2 0-0 1 1 1 5

Buckler 15 2-5 0-2 0-0 2 0 1 4

Thomas 6 0-0 0-0 0-0 2 0 0 0

Team 3

Totals 160 24-60 12-34 7-11 30 9 26 67

West Jessamine (72)

NAME mi fg-a 3-pt ft-a rb a pf tp

Mefford 12 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Bartholomew 15 1-2 1-2 0-0 3 1 3 6

Troyer 14 1-2 0-0 4-7 0 0 2 6

Polson 32 6-17 2-6 8-11 9 7 1 22

Ziemann 32 3-4 1-2 6-8 2 2 3 13

Rehner 25 4-5 0-0 6-8 8 3 3 14

Pohl 20 4-5 0-1 2-2 3 0 2 10

Elliott 10 2-2 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 4

Team 5

Totals 160 21-37 4-11 26-36 31 13 14 72

Grayson Co. 8 13 13 33—67

West Jessamine 12 14 15 31—72

Field-goal shooting: Grayson Co. 40.0, West Jessamine 56.8. Free-throw shooting: Grayson Co. 63.6, West Jessamine 72.2. Technicals: None. Turnovers: Grayson Co. 8 (Deviney 3, Smith 2, Johnston 2, Saltsman 1), West Jessamine 11 (Polson 4, Rehner 3, Bartholomew 2, Troyer 1, team 1). Blocked shots: Grayson Co. 0, West Jessamine 1 (Polson 1). Steals: Grayson Co. 1 (Deviney 1), West Jessamine 2 (Polson 1, Ziemann 1). Officials: Mike Walker, Brian Cook, Glenn Spalding. Attendance: n/a.Records: Grayson Co. 26-7, West Jessamine 28-8.

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