By SCOTT WILSON
Glasgow Daily Times
BOWLING GREEN —
As time ran out Friday night, Barren County’s Charley McCoy fell to his knees.
The dream McCoy and his Trojan teammates had to win the region and advance to the state basketball tournament came to an end Friday when Warren Central beat Barren County 75-71 in the semifinals of the Fourth Region Boys Basketball Tournament at Diddle Arena on the campus of Western Kentucky University.
McCoy, who scored 18 points, led the Trojans’ furious fourth quarter rally that fell just short at the buzzer.
“For us coming into this, we wanted to fight for every possession. And I feel like we did that,” said Barren County coach Warren Cunningham. “With Warren Central, it is all about the runs they go on. Your turnovers end up being layups.
“But I thought our guys fought hard and I think they wanted to make sure it didn’t get away from them. But you have to give Warren Central credit. They made some big plays.”
Trailing by 13, 54-41, at the beginning of the fourth period, the Trojans started to catch fire. A bucket by McCoy made it 58-45 with 5:15 to go and when Jaucoby Poore and Dalton Bush made back-to-back layups, the Trojans were within 12 at 61-49 with 3:58 on the clock.
A 3-pointer by Poore made it 63-52 and when Bush stole a pass and scored in transition, the Trojans were all of sudden within 10 at 66-56 with 2:12 to go.
Kaelon Dickerson answered with a 3-pointer for Warren Central, but Barren County’s Clay Simmons came right back with a trey of his own to make it 69-59 with 1:48 on the clock.
After a basket by Warren Central’s Nay Walker, Poore nailed two 3-pointers in a row to cut the deficit to single digits, bringing the Trojans to within six at 71-65 with 1:05 to play.
After another basket by Byron Carver for the Dragons, McCoy hit another 3 to pull Barren County to within four at 72-68 with 22 seconds to go.
It wasn’t enough. That was as close as the Trojans would get.
“It seemed like we dug ourselves a hole in the second quarter. And even late in the second quarter, every time we made a run, they would either hit a 3 or make a big play,” Cunningham said. “It seemed like we could never get over the hump, to get it down to single digits to where you thought you had a legitimate chance to win it. The big run we made really didn’t happen until late and we just ran out of time.”
McCoy led three Barren County players in double figures with 18 points. Bush tallied 16 points and Poore had 13. Simmons scored seven points and Matthew Bunnell had five. Barrett Billingsley and Ben Leftwich scored four points each, while Bo Hubbard and Kyle Marr contributed two points a piece.
Dickerson led the charge for Warren Central with 16 points. Chris Porter-Bunton had 15 and Wayne Baird had 13. The Dragons shot a blistering 53 percent from the field for the game.
“They made big shots when they had to make them, so you have to give them credit,” Cunningham said. “For the most part, I don’t think we got beat because of the things we did. We lost because of the plays they made during crunch time.”
The Trojans stayed right with the Dragons to open the game. Warren Central wanted to keep the ball moving up and down the court and Barren County stayed right with them step for step.
Despite losing Poore to early foul trouble after only two minutes into the first quarter, the Trojans tied the game at 6-6 on a jumper by Simmons and when Bush hit back-to-back jumpers in the lane, the Trojans tied the game again at 12 in the waning moments of the first period.
The Dragons began to create some separation in the second quarter. Baird scored the first seven points of the period to stake Warren Central to a 19-14 advantage with 5:25 to go in the half.
Leftwich nailed a jumper for the Trojans, but Barren County was outscored 10-2 over the next two minutes to trail 29-16 with 3:35 on the clock.
The two teams battled back and forth through the final three minutes of the quarter and the Dragons took a 40-25 advantage into the locker room.