My how things can change in a span of only a year.
Last season, the Somerset Briar Jumpers — thanks to a solid post-season run — experienced the euphoria of winning on the grand stage, advancing all the way to the championship game of the Boy’s 12th Regional Tournament before falling to Wayne County.
Last night at Casey County High School, Jeff Cothron and the Jumpers post season consisted of only one game, ending in bitter disappointment.
The homestanding Rebels fought back from an early 19-7 deficit, and thanks to a pair of clutch free throws from guard Zack Scott, it was Casey County stunning the region and the Briar Jumpers with a come from behind, 52-48 victory over Somerset, ending Somerset’s season with a 13-15 record.
“As young as Casey County is, they started out nervous tonight and we were playing good defense against them,” stated coach Cothron, after his club’s season came to a bitter end.
“They were making youthful mistakes early on, and we were able to capitalize on them and made some shots that got us in the lead,” continued the Somerset coach. “Once they got comfortable and hit a shot or two, they relaxed and started playing better.”
Early on, Somerset had this game in hand, leading the Rebels by that 12-point margin in the second stanza, but Maze Stallworth’s club would fight back.
Casey County outscored Somerset in the second frame by a 20-10 margin, thanks in large part to the inside-outside game of Collin Miller and Baylen Hill.
That duo accounted for 17 of Casey County’s 25 points in the first half of play — a half that saw Somerset lead the entire way, but hold only a 27-25 lead over the Rebels at the intermission.
The second half was a see-saw, back and forth affair that saw the lead change hands a total of 13 times — eight of those coming in the fourth quarter of play.
A trey from Miller midway through the fourth stanza gave the Rebels their largest lead of the evening at that juncture — 42-39 — but Somerset came right back thanks to back to back buckets from freshman guard Landon Powell.
After a pair of free throws from Tyler Dishman, Scott played the hero for the first time of the night, as his three-point basket knotted the game up for the final time at 45-45.
With just over a minute left to go, a basket by Somerset’s Ryan Dishman put the Jumpers back on top of Casey at 48-47, but the Rebels would respond, as Hill scored off a nice move to the basket, putting the Rebels back on top 49-48.
That’s when Scott drove the final nail in Somerset’s coffin.
With :13 left in the game and on the line for a one and one, Scott missed the front end of the bonus with his club clinging to that 49-48 lead, but inexplicably, he was able to rebound his own miss, and was fouled on a follow up attempt, giving him two more free throws.
Thanks to that second chance at the charity stripe, the senior guard made both of his free throw attempts, giving the Rebels a 51-48 lead with only :11 left on the clock.
“Rebounding the basketball was a big-time problem for our team all year long,” lamented Cothron.
“Basketball is a funny game and you can go from one extreme to the other,” stated the Jumper coach. “Last year we were in the finals of the region and almost got to the pinnacle of what we’re trying to do, and this year is a polar opposite. You’re going to go through things like that any time you’re trying to build a program.”
Trailing Casey County by that 51-48 score after Scott’s two free throws, Ryan Dishman got a decent look from the top of the key for a potential tying three-pointer, but his shot clanged off the rim, Casey County’s Miller pulled down the rebound and was fouled with :04 left, and the celebration was on.
Miller made one of two from the free throw line to seal the deal, sending the Rebels into the championship game of the district tourney with the 52-48 victory, while ending Somerset’s season for the second time in the past three years in the opening round of the post season.
Ryan Dishman — playing in the final game of his Somerset career — paced Somerset with 14 points in the loss.
Miller led the Rebels with 15 points, while Hill added 14 and Scott chipped in with 11.
Casey County — 12-19 on the year — will face Pulaski County on Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the finals of the district tourney.
Both teams will advance to next week’s 12th Regional Tournament, which will be held at Pulaski County High School beginning on Wednesday.
SHS — 15 10 9 14 — 48
CC — 7 20 7 18 — 52
Somerset — R. Dishman 14, Lindsey 9, T. Dishman 8, Coomer 8, Powell 4, Dockery 2, Coldiron 2, Spear 1.
Casey Co. — Miller 15, Hill 14, Scott 11, Smith 7, Hayes 4, Davis 1.