Coming off losses in their first 2 games of the Lake Cumberland Holiday Hoops Classic, the Somerset Briar Jumpers were searching to at least scrap out one win of their 3-game homestand. Their opponent? A very solid Smith County team out of Tennessee. Through the first half, it looked like the Jumpers were going to do that very thing as well. Smith County made it much closer in the 2nd half of play, but Somerset wanted this win just a little bit more, scraping and clawing their way to a 61-55 victory over the visitors from Tennessee.
The game started out in Somerset's favor, as Jack Bruner had his first bucket off of an assist from Logan Purcell. Smith County would counter shortly after as Johnathan Lyda hit a 3-pointer to make it 3-2 in favor of the visiting Owls. The two teams would trade buckets towards the middle of the first stanza as they were tied at 7 a piece. The Briar Jumpers would catch fire soon after, however, as they went on a 11-5 run to lead the game 18-12 after 1 quarter of action. Somerset would have points here from Indred Whitaker (3), Purcell (3), Riley Waddle (3), and Landen Lonesky (2), while Smith County would have buckets from Peyton Hix (2 points) and Hayden Bush (3 points).
The 2nd quarter of action was a much closer affair, with Smith County even outscoring Somerset for the quarter 13-10, as they reduced the Briar Jumper lead to just 28-25 as the 2 teams went into the locker rooms. The Owls would see their points scored by Dennis West (5), Hix (2), Lyda (3), and Matthew Sinclair (3), while Somerset's 10 points in the quarter were scored by Ben Godby (3), Whitaker (3), Lonesky (2), and Josh Bruner (2).
Any momentum the Briar Jumpers had in the first 2 quarters seemingly disappeared early in the 3rd quarter, as despite a 9-4 run by Somerset (featuring 4 points from Godby, 2 from Lodesky, and 3 from Whitaker), the Owls would fight back and claim the lead at 41-39 following their own run at 9-2 (featuring 2 points from Bryce Currie and 5 points from Lyda). However, the Briar Jumpers wouldn't fold from this pressure, taking a 44-41 lead into the final quarter of action following a 2-point basket from Lonesky and a beautiful buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Whitaker.
What started as a 5-0 run to end the 3rd quarter, blossomed into a 16-3 run for Somerset to begin the final quarter of action to run out their lead to 55-44, a serious game-changing run for the Jumpers, and one they've shown a prosperity for in the recent weeks (such as their overtime comeback victory over Barbourville). Somerset had points during this run from Lonesky (6, who may have played the best varsity game of his young career to this point) and Whitaker (5). The Owls just wouldn't give up, however, and launched a run of their own, 9-2, to trim the deficit to just 57-53 with only a few minutes left on the game clock. Smith County would obtain points during this crucial run by West (3) and Currie (6). The Briar Jumpers were steadfast in their belief to win the game, and following 2 points a piece from Whitaker and Josh Bruner following 4 free throws, the Jumpers would claim this victory 61-55. A solid victory for 1st year coach Ryan Young and his squad, and I firmly believe this Briar Jumper squad will get better with time.
"We've battled a lot of adversity with illness and injuries this week, but I'm so proud of these guys," stated Somerset High school boys basketball coach Ryan Young. "We had contributions from so many guys today."
Somerset was led in scoring by Indred Whitaker with 23 points (led all scorers) and Landen Lonesky with 14 points, and also had contributions from Ben Godby (7 points), Ethan Gadberry (5 points), Josh Bruner (4 points), Logan Purcell (3 points), Riley Waddle (3 points), and Jack Bruner (2 points). Smith County (Tennessee) was led by Johnathan Lyda with 18 points, Peyton Hix with 13 points, and Dennis West with 10 points.
Somerset will also finish in a de facto 3rd place in the Somerset pool of the 2021 Lake Cumberland Holiday Hoops Classic, and additionally will improve to 5-8 on the season. The Briar Jumpers will return to action Tuesday, January 4th, as they will play host to the Rockets of Rockcastle County, with tip-off tentatively scheduled for 7:30 PM (following the conclusion of the Lady Jumpers game).