Warren Cunningham wanted to use Friday’s game with Bowling Green as a barometer for his team. Playing in the semifinals of the T.J. Samson Community Hospital Classic Basketball Tournament at Metcalfe County High School, Cunningham wanted to find out just where his Barren County team stood at this point in the season.
Cunningham got his answer in a hard-fought 84-71 loss.
“I think we did learn about our team. We learned some good things and some bad things,” Cunningham said. “I like how we competed against a very good team, but we have to defend better and we have to play smarter.”
Trailing 38-27 at the half, the Trojans came out in the second period more aggressive on offense. The Trojans attacked the basket early and got free throws from Bo Hubbard and Barrett Billingsley to cut the Bowling Green lead to 45-34 with 5:22 to go in the period.
Barren County seemingly struggled on defense as when the Trojans would score on their end of the court, Bowling Green would answer with a bucket of its own. Nacarius Fant hit two charity tosses with 3:16 on the clock to make it 53-37, but BCHS got a 3-pointer from Charley McCoy and the Trojans were back within 13 at 53-40.
The Bowling Green lead stayed around 15 points until Ben Leftwich converted a 3-point play the hard way for the Trojans at the 2:41 mark in the fourth to cut the Purples’ advantage to 72-61. After a free throw by Clay Stivers, Hubbard answered for Barren County and Wade Coomer followed with a 3-pointer and the Trojans were suddenly within seven at 73-66 with 2:01 on the clock.
Barren County tried to put the Purples on the line in the second half to save time in the final moments, but Bowling Green made the most of its free throws, hitting nine of 10 charity tosses down the stretch to secure the victory.
“I thought early in the third period was key for us,” Cunningham said. “We got it down to around nine or 10, and because of the style they (Bowling Green) play, that’s not an insurmountable lead. However, we didn’t get enough stops. We needed more than one good stop, we needed to string three or four of them together.”
Hubbard led the Barren County charge with 15 points. Leftwich had 14 points and six rebounds. McCoy added 13 points and Nick Mabe had 11. Coomer tallied 10 points for the Trojans, while Billingsley had five and Jacob Jones scored two. Zach Mabe scored one.
Hart County will take on North Hardin in the seventh place game Saturday in the final round of the tournament. Tipoff is 8 p.m. in the middle school gym. Prior to that game, Metcalfe County will play Garrard County for fifth place at 6 p.m. Barren County will battle Adair County for third place at 6 p.m. in the high school gym, with Bowling Green taking on Whitley County for the tournament championship at 8 p.m.
“We scrimmaged Adair County earlier this year and they’ve got some talented players,” Cunningham said. “It will be a completely different game than the one we played tonight because Adair is very good in the half-court. They run their sets very well.
“I told the guys in the locker room that it is going to be very important how we respond to this game (loss to Bowling Green). How are we going to come out and play against Adair County? It will be a good challenge for us.”