After falling behind 9-4 in the first four minutes of the game, the Somerset High School boys basketball team went on a 16 to 3 run to close out the quarter en route to their 78-46 district blowout win over Casey County High School on Friday at the Briar Patch.
The Somerset High School fans celebrated the program's 1,500th boys basketball win by introducing former players by each decade going back all the way to the 1940's, but the real heroes of the night was the current Briar Jumpers' defense. Once Somerset got behind in the early goings, Briar Jumper coach Jeron Dunbar turned up his team's defensive pressure. For the night, Somerset scored 24 points off turnovers and forced Casey County into 28 turnovers.
"I like it when our defense turns into our offense," Dunbar gleamed. "If I never had to set up in a special (offensive) play, I would be good to go. We got off to a little slow start, but you have to give credit to Casey County because they played their butts off tonight, and they have gotten better in the last two weeks since we played them last."
"We stepped up our defense and turned it into our offense, and we are better when we play like that," Dunbar stated.
Junior Kaiya Sheron scored 12 of his game-high 16 points in the first half and benefitted by several of the Briar Jumpers' defensive steals. Sheron also had 8 rebounds and 3 assists.
"Every single game Kaiya (Sheron) gets better and better, and that is what athletes do," Dunbar stated. "It takes him a little bit longer but he does a really good job, and he is so long and so athletic. He relies on that a lot and he is getting us great minutes. He is one of the big keys for us going forward in how far we can go. If he is engaged it makes everything else so much better."
With a 20-12 lead after the opening quarter, Somerset opened the second stanza with a 16 to 5 run. Sheron, Jase Bruner, Dylan Burton, and Kade Grundy led the offensive charge in the Briar Jumpers' second-quarter run. Somerset opened the third quarter with a 20 to 2 run to take a 32-point lead at 58-26. Sophomore Gavin Stevens scored nine of his 13 total points in the Briar Jumpers' third-quarter run.
Junior Jackson Cooper nailed a three-pointer with 32 second left in the third quarter to put the game into running clock at 67-30. In a speedy fourth stanza, Kannon Tucker hit two treys, Jerod Smith hit two free throws, Jack Harmon hit a free throw, and Logan Purcell scored a basket on a putback.
Other than Sheron's 16 points, the Jumpers had two other players score in double figures - Dylan Burton with 15 and Gavin Stevens with 13.
"We have taken a lot of pressure off Kade (Grundy) knowing we have other scorers like Gavin (Stevens), who has stepped up this year," Dunbar stated. "Dylan (Burton) is having a very solid year, and Jackson Cooper is stepping up. These players are taking some of the scoring pressure of Kade, and whenever we play as a team we are pretty hard to beat."
Grundy scored 8 points, had had four rebounds and had three assists. Jase Bruner had a game-high 10 rebounds.
On Monday, Somerset downed McCreary Central to collect the program's 1,500th boys basketball win. Prior to Friday's tip-off, several former Somerset players were introduced. A group from each decade were recognized at halfcourt. Gene Hurt and Wynn Dodson were recognized as Somerset basketball players for the 1940 era.
Somerset (13-2) will travel to Burgin, on Monday, Jan. 13, to play Washington County in the opening round of the 12th Region All "A" Tournament.
STEVE CORNELIUS is the CJ Sports Editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @CJSportseditor.