By DOUG EADS, CJ Correspondent
Somerset’s curse at the All A reared its ugly head once again.
For almost 30 minutes in the Briar Jumpers first round game of the Boy’s All A State Tournament on Thursday night against Jackson County, Jeff Cothron’s Somerset team was well on its way to ending an eight-year drought in the small school tourney.
The Jumpers hadn’t won a game at the All A since a 59-45 win over Beth Haven in the opening round of the tournament way back in 2006.
On Thursday night however, that eight-year drought appeared to be over, as Somerset was in full control, leading Jackson County from the opening tip all the way through the midway point of the fourth quarter.
But then, the wheels fell off for the Jumpers.
Jordan Fox scored a game-high 28 points, helping the Generals roar back from a 10-point fourth quarter deficit to down Somerset by a 65-61 margin.
“It’s like we hit the panic button in the fourth quarter tonight,” lamented Somerset head coach Jeff Cothron, after his club fell to 11-10 on the year with the tough loss.
“We did the same thing last week in our win over Danville in the fourth quarter, but fortunately we had a big enough lead to overcome that,” continued the Somerset head coach. “I don’t know what’s going on there. I don’t know if we’re just getting comfortable with a lead like that and then playing not to lose. That’s certainly not what we’re telling them from the bench — we’re telling them to stay aggressive.”
Early on, this one was firmly in Somerset’s favor.
The Jumpers raced out to a quick 5-0 lead in the first quarter, and never trailed in the opening half of play.
In fact, Somerset had its biggest lead of the game — 31-20 — at halftime, and had this one well in hand thanks to reserve Chandler Purcell.
Purcell outscored Jackson County all by himself in the second quarter, scoring 11 of his 16 points in the frame, helping Somerset open up a 13-12 lead after one period of play to 11 points at the half.
A Purcell steal and layup to begin the second half gave Somerset its biggest lead of the night — 33-20 — and all appeared to be well in the land of purple and gold.
However, it was a night that would eventually see Somerset fall in bitter disappointment at the All A yet again.
“There’s no question that this is a game that slipped through our grasp,” said Cothron.
“It’s frustrating for me and it’s frustrating for the kids,” stated the Jumper coach. “I just told them that you have to learn from these kind of situations. We did the same thing last week at Danville and got by with it. We did it up here tonight and didn’t get by with it. You can choose to learn from a winning situation or a losing situation, and more times than not they’ll learn from this one, because this one really hurts.”
Indeed, this one did hurt.
Somerset led the Generals 46-37 through three quarters of play, and led by 10 points — 50-40 — with six minutes left to go in the contest.
It was at that point Jackson County began to make its run, thanks to Somerset getting away from its game plan of making this a half court game.
Instead, the Jumpers began running with Jackson County, and the Generals got right back into the contest.
Isaiah Collier scored on back to back buckets, and thanks to a mini 6-0 run, the Generals had trimmed the deficit down to 50-46, forcing Cothron to call a timeout with 5:22 left to go.
Somerset held steady and maintained its lead coming out of that timeout, but when Jacob Hammons completed a three-point play, the Jumpers lead was down to a slim digit at 54-53.
On Jackson County’s next trip down the floor, Fox completed a three-point play, giving Jackson County its first lead of the night at 56-54 with 2:43 remaining in the game — a lead the Generals would never relinquish.
After a Somerset miss on the next trip downcourt, Hammons scored on a nifty move down the lane, completing an 18-4 run, but more importantly, giving Greg Parrett’s club a 58-54 lead with just under two minutes left to play.
“We played about as well as we can play offensively through three quarters tonight, and we shot the ball extremely well,” pointed out Cothron.
“Through that one stretch in the fourth quarter we struggled, and some of the shots we were taking during their run were not good shots,” said the Somerset coach. “And when we got good shots down around the basket we simply didn’t finish them. The fact that they outrebounded us by 15 didn’t help either. If we take care of the ball and execute our offense during that two-minute stretch of the fourth quarter, I think there’s a good chance this would have been a different outcome.”
Ryan Dishman led Somerset in a losing effort with 27 points, while Purcell chipped in with 16 points, and Tyler Dishman added 10.
The Briar Jumpers will be off until next Friday evening, when Somerset will entertain arch-rival Pulaski County in a pivotal 47th District matchup at The Briar Patch for both teams.
That game is set to tip off at 7:30 p.m.
SHS — 13 18 15 15 — 61
JC — 12 8 17 28 — 65
SOMERSET — R. Dishman 27, Purcell 16, T. Dishman 10, Powell 4, Coomer 4.
JACKSON CO. — Fox 28, Lawson 14, Hammons 12, Collier 11.