By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
After dropping two of their first three games to begin the season — all on the road — the Somerset Briar Jumpers finally took the court at the friendly confines of The Briar Patch on Saturday night for their home opener, but Jeff Cothron’s club could not run past perennial 12th Region powerhouse West Jessamine.
The visiting Colts raced past Somerset by a final tally of 69-57, in large part due to the fact Damon Kelley’s club hurt the Jumpers big-time in the transition game.
West Jessamine got a team-high 19 points from Brooks Ely, while Rashawn Jackson came off the bench to notch 18 points, helping the Colts improve to 4-0 on the season, while dropping Cothron and crew to 1-3 on the year and handing Somerset its third straight loss in the process.
“We’re still trying to figure out what we do well and what lineup is best suited for us both offensively and defensively,” stated Cothron, after his club’s latest setback.
“You know it was just a one or two point game until about the last two or three minutes of the first half, and then we had that stretch there where they went on that big run,” added the Somerset head coach. “I hated to waste a timeout there so close to halftime, because we’re going to have to learn to play through stretches like that this year.”
That big run was due in large part to West Jessamine simply killing Somerset in transition.
The Colts shot a torrid, 60 percent from the floor in the opening half — hitting on 15 of 25 field goal attempts — with that percentage being aided in large part due to outscoring Somerset on fast break points by a 22-6 margin.
Those quick and easy baskets enabled the Colts to erase an early, 10-2 deficit to go into the intermission with a 32-21 lead.
“We started out doing a better job on the two Dishman’s (Ryan and Tyler) defensively, with not only the people guarding them, but the guys helping on them, especially on the curls in their offensive sets,” pointed out West Jessamine head coach Damon Kelley.
“I thought Will Henderson then really started doing a good job of pushing the ball down the middle of the floor in transition, and he was able to get several assists, which helped us to go on the big run in the first half,” stated Kelley. “And, he was also able to get to the basket himself and got a couple of easy buckets, and that helped us erase that deficit and get a comfortable lead by halftime.”
After trailing Somerset early by that 10-2 margin midway through the first period, West Jessamine closed out the half on a 30-11 run, thanks to several easy baskets and the defensive clamps put on Somerset’s duo of Ryan and Tyler Dishman.
The Dishman’s accounted for 15 of Somerset’s 21 first half points, but after both players got off early on the Colts, easy looks at the basket became harder and harder to come by as the game progressed for Somerset’s deadly shooters.
The Colts continued to build their lead in the third period, eventually getting the advantage up to as many as 17 points at 43-26, but Somerset would show some fight, eventually getting the deficit back down to 10 points in the final frame, but the Jumpers could never get it down to single digits.
“We’re a young team and we’re playing a lot of young kids right now,” stated coach Cothron. “Even some of the juniors we’re playing right now are inexperienced.”
“We’ve got a lot of room for improvement and I think we’ll get there, but it will take us a little time,” continued the Briar Jumper coach. “I do know that it’s a whole lot more important to be playing your best basketball at the end of February than the middle of December. We’ll get better as the year goes along, but it’s going to take us some time to get there.”
Ryan Dishman led all scorers in the game with a game-high 20 points, while Chandler Purcell notched 12 points for the Jumpers and Tyler Dishman added 11.
Somerset will try to end its three-game losing slide with a very important district game tonight on the road.
The Jumpers will travel to Casey County for a matchup of 47th District foes, with tipoff set to get underway at 7:30 p.m.
WJ — 12 20 16 21 — 69
SHS — 13 8 14 22 — 57
WEST JESSAMINE — Ely 19, Jackson 18, Peters 11, Henderson 8, Crouse 7, Holifield 6.
SOMERSET — R. Dishman 20, Purcell 12, T. Dishman 11, Spear 7, Dobbs 4, Coomer 3.