It’s crazy how much things can change in the span of a year.
Last season, the Somerset Briar Jumpers boys basketball program found themselves watching the 12th Region Boys Basketball Tournament from the sidelines, having not qualified for the eight-team tourney after an opening round loss to Casey County in the 47th District Boys Basketball Tournament.
Last night, just over a year after the season-ending loss to Casey County in the district tourney, the Jumpers found themselves playing for a coveted regional title and a trip to Rupp Arena for the PNC/KHSAA Sweet 16 Boys State Tournament.
After victories over Boyle County and Mercer County in the first two rounds of regional tournament action, the Jumpers earned a trip to the regional finals, where they met up with long-time rival Wayne County.
Unfortunately for the ‘Purple and Gold,’ the championship meeting with the Cardinals wouldn’t be as kind as the first two rounds would be, as Rodney Woods’ ball club came away with a 61-48 victory last night at Lincoln County High School.
Despite the 13-point setback to Wayne County, Somerset head coach Jeff Cothron was more than proud of his squad’s postseason run following the contest.
“I’m very proud of my team,” told the Jumper hoops coach. “This program is night and day from where it was to where it is now, so I’m really proud of what they’ve accomplished. I thanked the seniors for getting the program back up and riding the ship, and I also told the ones who will be back, to remember how this loss felt so they will get back to the grindstone and want to get back here.”
Somerset held their own for the first two quarters of action, but a 20-9 third quarter allowed the Cardinals to separate themselves from the Jumpers to take a 12-point, 47-45 lead into the fourth quarter.
At the intermission, the Jumpers went into the locker room trailing by a lone point at 27-26. The third stanza would be a big one for Wayne County, as they used a 10-1 run to grab a double-digit lead. That run would be a huge blow to the boys in purple and gold, as they never seemed to fully recover from it.
Much of the reason for Wayne County’s success was their ability to put the ball in the nets from behind the three-point arc. In fact, the Cardinals hit ten treys in the contest. Somerset, meanwhile, managed to only hit one trifecta, which came from junior Ryan Dishman.
Wayne County’s hot hand from behind the three-point line was difficult to stop.
“Hats off to Wayne County, because I didn’t expect them - in the third game of the regional tournament - to shoot the ball as well as they did,” explained Cothron. “We did a good job when we got the ball in the post, but we didn’t shoot the ball particularly well from the outside. We were at a disadvantage because we could pound the ball inside, but we couldn’t force the turnovers.”
Somerset led on one occasion during the contest, which was when Ryan Weddle gave the Jumpers a 2-0 lead to start the game. Following Weddle’s lay-up, Wayne County tallied eight straight points to run out to an 8-2 advantage.
After one quarter in the books, Somerset found themselves down by four points at 17-13. The Jumpers outlasted Wayne County, 13-10, in the second period to lessen the Cardinal lead to a lone point at halftime.
Weddle, in his final game as a Jumper, finished with a team-high 17 points, while chipping in with five rebounds. The Somerset big man scored 15 of 17 points in the third and fourth quarters.
Fellow senior big man Tyson Williams joined Weddle in double figures, as he tallied 12 points and pulled down a contest-high eight boards. Williams had a big second frame for the Jumpers, scoring eight of the team’s 13 points in the eight-minute time period.
Dishman chimed in with nine points for Somerset, while senior Matt Gordon tallied eight points and had seven rebounds. Cam Cheuvront tallied two points in the regional final contest.
Both Peyton Woods and Corey Stearns both had huge nights for the Cardinals, as both had 20-plus point performances. Woods led all scorers, pouring in a game-high 23 points, which included four three-pointers. Stearns, who knocked down a pair of treys, finished with 21 points.
With the loss, Somerset’s final overall record for the 2012-13 season stands at 20-10. Under the guidance of Cothron, the Jumpers earned a spot in the regional championship game for the first time since 1989.
After doing the math, the Jumpers had exactly the same amount of wins they had this year, as they did in the past two seasons under then head coach Don Daniel. In the 2010-11 season, Somerset finished 9-19, while last season, the Jumpers went 11-14.
Wayne County, who tallied their ninth regional championship in school history and eighth under Woods, will play 11th Region champion Madison Central in the opening round of the State Tournament, which is set to get underway Wednesday morning at Rupp Arena.
Local athletes being named to the 12th Region Boys Tournament All-Tournament were: Southwestern’s Justin Edwards, Pulaski County’s Kody Johnson, and the Somerset trio of Williams, Weddle, and Dishman.
SHS - 13 13 9 13 - 48
WC - 17 10 20 14 - 61
SOMERSET (20-10): Weddle 17, Williams 12, Dishman 9, Gordon 8, Cheuvront 2.
WAYNE COUNTY (27-7): Woods 23, Stearns 21, Blevins 9, Shelton 3, Gehring 3, Perkins 2.