For the sixth consecutive season, the Bowling Green boys’ basketball team will play for a regional title.
The Purples – who have made playing for championships a consistent theme – will play for another trophy Saturday after beating Clinton County, 51-38, on Friday night in the Region 4 Tournament semifinals at E.A. Diddle Arena.
“I just thought our guys, in the second half, found a little something extra defensively that maybe I didn’t even know they had,” Bowling Green coach Derrick Clubb said. “It was kind of fun to just sit there and watch ‘em. Then, when we got into the half-court with the ball, we started driving the ball and our big guys got going a little bit.
“We beat a very, very, very good basketball team.”
Bowling Green (26-5) will face longtime rival Warren Central (19-11) for the Region 4 title and a trip to next week’s Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen Tournament at Rupp Arena in Lexington at 6 p.m. Saturday.
It’ll mark the second straight year – and the ninth time overall since 2003 – that the Purples and Dragons have met in the regional final. The two teams split in the regular season as WCHS won 49-45 on Jan. 19 and BGHS won 54-48 on Jan. 25.
Warren Central defeated Bowling Green 65-53 in last year’s title game.
“It means a lot,” Bowling Green senior Jaylen Wardlow said. “Last year we didn’t get the job done. This year, we’re hungry. We’re really hungry to get that title.”
The Purples trailed 12-7 after the opening quarter but outscored Clinton County 14-10 in the second to only be down one at 22-21 at halftime. BGHS turned up its intensity in the second half, holding the sharpshooting Bulldogs to single digits in both the third and fourth periods and outscoring CCHS 30-16 to pull away and never look back.
“I just thought our kids had a different look in their eye that third quarter,” Clubb said. “That’s probably as well as we’ve played defensively all year. We just kind of had to sit down and guard ‘em. Anytime you do that in a game like this where it’s low scoring, that’s a big deal.”
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Isaiah Mason finished with a game-high 16 points to lead Bowling Green, while Kolbe Gray scored 12 points and Turner Buttry added 8.
The Purples shot 23-of-53 (43.4 percent) from the field and outscored the Bulldogs 28-10 in the paint. Defensively, Bowling Green forced 11 turnovers and held Clinton County to just 37.2 shooting on the night.
Seth Stockton led Clinton County (24-8) with 14 points, while Jackson Harlan – a Western Kentucky signee – finished with 13 in the Bulldogs’ season-ending defeat.
“I commend my kids for the first half coming out really, really ready to play,” Clinton County coach Todd Messer said. “I thought when they got up in us there in the third and fourth quarter and we missed some shots, they caused us to have to stretch beyond what we really are able to stretch.”
CCHS – 12 10 7 9 — 38
BGHS – 7 14 16 14 — 51
CC – Stockton 14, Harlan 13, Stines 5, Cross 2, Guffey 2, Madison 2.