By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
Rockcastle County rolled into The Briar Patch last night to square off against Somerset in the opening round of the Boy’s 47th District Tournament, and simply put, ‘The Rock’ got busted.
The homestanding Briar Jumpers scored the first nine points of the game, held the Rockets to only two points in the second quarter of play, and made eight of their first 10 shots to begin the second half.
As a result, it turned into a Somerset rout, as Jeff Cothron’s crew advanced to the championship game of the district tourney with an emphatic, 75-40 beatdown over the Rockets.
Just how dominant were the Jumpers last night?
Already leading ‘The Rock’ by a 36-13 margin at the intermission, Somerset shot a torrid, 64.7 percent from the field in the third period by hitting on 11 of 17 field goal attempts.
The inside tandem of Ryan Weddle and Tyson Williams was scoring at will, and as a result, the Jumpers led Rockcastle County by a whopping, 62-35 score through three quarters of play.
“The kids did a good job of taking advantage of what our advantages are, which is our size, particularly there in the third quarter,” stated a very happy coach Cothron after the game.
“Our big guys did a great job of putting the ball in the basket, and then when Rockcastle doubled down, they passed it out, so we were pretty efficient there in running our sets,” said the Jumper coach. “That’s what you want to be doing this time of year.”
Somerset never trailed in this one, racing out to that quick 9-0 lead early, forcing Rockcastle County to call a timeout with 4:16 remaining in the opening stanza.
Coming out of that timeout, the Rockets’ Corey McPhetridge came off the Rockcastle County bench scoring nine of his team-high 12 points in the opening frame, but the Jumpers maintained that nine-point lead after one stanza, leading Benny Blanton’s club by a 20-11 margin.
From that point on, the Jumpers were never really threatened in this lop-sided affair, blowing this game wide open in the second quarter by outscoring Rockcastle County 16-2 in the frame, taking a commanding, 36-13 lead over Rockcastle into the intermission.
“I give the kids all the credit, because they’re playing their tails off right now on both sides of the ball,” pointed out Cothron.
“They’re playing very aggressive on both sides, and again, that’s what we’ve been looking for all year,” added the Somerset coach. “Hopefully, we can maintain that consistency.”
Eventually, this game went to a running clock, thanks to a 35-point Somerset lead at the midway point of the fourth quarter.
Austin Coomer hit a pair of free throws with 4:25 remaining in the contest, extending Somerset’s lead out to 70-35, forcing the game to go to a running clock for the rest of the way.
Ryan Weddle led a balanced scoring attack for Somerset, pouring in a game-high 20 points, while Tyson Williams and Matt Gordon each added 14 points in the victory.
The win by the Briar Jumpers gave Somerset its first appearance in a regional tournament for the first time since the 2007-’08 season — a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by the Jumpers head coach in the aftermath of last night’s impressive victory.
“It’s a sense of pride for me, and it’s huge as far as this program is concerned,” stated Cothron after Wednesday night’s win.
With the win, Somerset improved to 18-8 on the season and advanced to Friday night’s championship game of the 47th District Tournament where a very familiar foe will be waiting for the Briar Jumpers.
The Jumpers and arch-rival Pulaski County will meet up on Friday night for the third time this season, with a district title on the line for both clubs.
The two teams split the regular season series, with PC winning on its home court by a score of 59-54, while the Jumpers won last week’s rematch at The Briar Patch by a 78-64 margin.
Pulaski County is the defending three-time 47th District champion, and Cothron knows going into the game just how special Friday’s third meeting between the two will be — for players, coaches, and fans of both programs.
“It’s a big rival game for the district championship, and that’s why we’re all in this business,” remarked the SHS coach.
“The kids really enjoy it, and is should be a very exciting atmosphere, so we’re really looking forward to it,” Cothron added. “Both teams will be trying to win, because that’s what we do — we’re both very competitive. In the grand scheme of things, the whole region is even, so you’d like to go into the region with a win, but win or lose, you have to shake it off and get ready for next week, because the regional tourney is a whole new deal.”
Tip off for Friday’s Pulaski County-Somerset district championship game will get underway from The Briar Patch at 7 p.m.
RC — 11 2 22 5 — 40
SHS — 20 16 26 13 — 75
ROCKCASTLE CO. — McPhetridge 12, Arvin 10, Pensol 5, Allen 4, Mason 4, Hasty 3, Harper 2.
SOMERSET — Weddle 20, Williams 14, Gordon 14, Cheuvront 9, Coomer 5, Purcell 4, Gilmore 3, Farris 2, R. Dishman 2, Brycen Williams 2.