By DOUG EADS CJ Sports Writer
Southwestern head coach Dave Schulz cringed last Saturday morning, if only ever so slightly, when he heard the news his Warrior team had drawn Lincoln County, right out of the gate, on the opening night of the Boy’s 12th Regional Basketball Tournament.
However, thanks to a 15-0 run by Southwestern to end the first period in last night’s opening game of the tournament, Schulz didn’t feel the need to cringe any more.
The Warriors got a game-high 21 points from Dustin Fothergill, 17 points by Casey Dalton, 16 points from Jonathan Edwards, and Casey Daugherty added 10 points, as Southwestern, thanks to that 15-0 spurt in the first period, cruised to a 74-65 victory over Lincoln County last night, advancing to the semi finals of the tournament on Friday night.
So coach, down 4-0 to the Patriots with 5:12 left in the opening stanza, what did you say to your team during the :30 timeout you called, in an attempt to get some momentum going for the orange and blue?
“To be honest with you, I can’t even remember what I said right now,” said Schulz, immediately following his team’s victory.
“I think what our coaching staff was able to see, was that we were able to get out on them in transition,” added the Warrior head coach. “But, we weren’t making that advance pass. So, I think once we started to doing that, that got us some points, and we got to rolling after that.”
Coming out of that timeout, with the Warriors trailing Lincoln County 4-0, Southwestern went on a 15-0 run for the remainder of the quarter, to take complete control of this one.
T.W. Sears scored Southwestern’s first two buckets in the run, to knot the score at 4-4, and then a Dustin Fothergill trey gave the Warriors the lead for good, at 7-4.
Casey Dalton added two free throws, Jonathan Edwards nailed a trey, and Fothergill followed Edwards with his second three-pointer of the frame, and the Warriors were on top after one period of play, 15-4, and Lincoln County was in some big-time trouble.
Noah Keeton ended the Southwestern flurry with a three-pointer to start the second quarter, cutting the Southwestern lead to 15-7, but that would be as close as the Pats would get in the first half.
Dalton led the way for the Warriors with 10 first half points, to go along with 8 rebounds, as the junior point guard was simply playing lights out early on, despite having some foul troubles.
Thanks to a total team effort in that first half, the Warriors led by a comfortable, 14-point margin at the intermission over the Patriots, 31-17.
“Our group of kids came in tonight real focused, and that was a key for tonight, because I didn’t think against McCreary Central in our last game we had that focus,” pointed out Schulz. “We understand we have a great opportunity here this week. This is a tremendous team that’s never came out and laid an egg and just played flat. They’ve always came out, whether it was at practice or in a game, and played hard, and played together. I’m just very proud of them for the way they played tonight for the entire game.”
Early in the third frame, the Warriors looked as if they were going to absolutely bury the Patriots inside the PC Gym.
Fothergill hit back to back treys, and the Warriors, early on the frame, had the score more than doubled on Lincoln County, leading the contest 44-21.
However, Jeff Jackson’s club tried to fight itself back off the mat in this one.
After being held scoreless in the first half, Daniel Ralston came to life in the third period, scoring 8 points for Lincoln County, in an attempt to get his club back into the contest.
Ralston hit a pair of treys, and Trent Calhoun also nailed a three, and just like that, the Pats had the deficit down from 23 points to 14 points, at 44-30.
Edwards however, at that point, scored on a nifty move down in the lane, stopping Lincoln’s 9-0 spurt, and giving the Warriors a 46-30 advantage late in the third period.
“Anybody can win this region, because there’s so much parity in the region,” Schulz noted. “Everybody in the crowd tonight witnessed a really good basketball team, because either team was a tough out. We understand that we’re a tough out, but so is Lincoln County, and that’s why I’m so pleased with the effort my players gave tonight. Lincoln County has some tremendous athletes.”
Casey Dalton, while playing a superb floor game, was battling foul trouble for most of the night.
Dalton picked up his fourth personal with 5:16 left in the game, but the Warriors still appeared to be in good shape.
Immediately after Dalton went to the bench with that fourth personal foul, Fothergill scored on back to back buckets, was fouled on the second one, and completed the old-fashioned, three-point play.
At that point, the Warriors had a 20-point cushion, 57-37, but the Pats had one last run in them.
Chase Overstreet scored 14 of his team-high 20 points in the second half, with most of those coming in the fourth period, as Lincoln County exploded for 31 points over the game’s last eight minutes.
However, the final margin of victory, 9, would be as close as the Patriots would get on this night, as the Warriors advanced to the semi finals of the tournament, with the 74-65 victory.
“They could have rolled up the tent and went home when we got the 20-point lead, but there was no quit in Lincoln County, and no surrender,” stated Schulz. “They just kept on making three’s, and then they kept on getting to the line, and then they kept on stopping the clock. We just had to tough it out tonight, and gut out this win.”
It was at the free throw line where the Warriors were able to put this one away, especially late in the contest.
Southwestern, for the game, connected on 23 of 31 charity tosses for 74.2 percent, while Lincoln County was able to connect on just 7 of 13 from the line, for 53.8 percent.
With the win, the Warriors moved to 21-8 on the year, and advanced to Friday night’s semi final round of the tourney, which will tip off at 6:30 p.m.
Southwestern will square off against the Jaguars of East Jessamine in the first semi final game on Friday night.
East Jessamine was an 81-71 winner over Pulaski County in last night’s other first round game.
The 12th Regional Tournament continues tonight from PC. In the first game that will tip off at 6:30 p.m., the West Jessamine Colts will tangle with the Raiders of McCreary Central, and then in the nightcap, the Boyle County Rebels will take on the Rockcastle County Rockets.
LC 4 13 17 31 65
SW 15 16 17 26 74
LC (65)—Overstreet 20, Calhoun 15, Ralston 10, Keeton 6, Young 6, Miller 4, Reed 3, Reynolds 1.
SW (74)—Fothergill 21, Dalton 17, Edwards 16, Daugherty 10, Sears 8, Rodgers 2.
By DOUG EADS CJ Sports Writer