The Fourth Region Basketball Tournament semifinal game between Barren County (22-9) and Bowling Green (26-6) Monday got a little physical on both ends of floor. A total of 51 fouls, 30 on the Trojans, were whistled and that kind of game is not the style the Trojans want to play.
As a result, the Bowling Green Purples brought Barren County’s season to an end by beating the Trojans 71-55.
“We wanted it to be a basketball game and there was nothing about that that resembled a basketball game,” said Barren County coach Warren Cunningham. “It was just a foul-fest. It was a backyard brawl and they’re a lot better at that than we are. It really had nothing to do with basketball and that’s the frustrating thing. They beat, they banged, they pushed, (and) they shoved. And we did too. There were a lot of fouls, but they’re a lot better at that game than we are.”
Bowling Green goes on to play Warren Central in the Region 4 championship game on Tuesday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.
“It wasn’t a basketball game. That’s what I said to one of the referees after the game and he said, ‘Coach, I agree with you 100 percent.’ This game had nothing to do with basketball players because our players are just as good, if not better, than their players. When it becomes a game like that, they’re going to win. Beating, banging, getting in people’s faces, has nothing to do with basketball. We ended up with the technical and they pushed our buttons all night. I guess you can give them credit for that. If that’s the way they want to play, more power to them. We will not play like that.”
The Purples opened the game looking to get the Trojans in a track meet. The two teams battled back and forth throughout the first period, pushing the ball up the court, with Bowling Green taking a 14-9 advantage. The Trojans actually took the lead at 19-16 on free throws by Ben Leftwich with 6:01 to go in the second period.
But Bowling Green came roaring back and got buckets from Nacarious Fant, Blue Tisdale and Tucker Sine in a 10-2 run to take a 29-18 lead with just minutes left in the half. BGHS led 32-22 at the intermission.
“We felt like the last four or five minutes of the second quarter, we didn’t really put up a fight,” Cunningham explained. “We played OK early, but it kind of slipped away from us near the end of the second quarter. We got in foul trouble. Barrett (Bil-lingsley) and Nick (Mabe) were both out and that hurt us. We had several turnovers and we were a little soft with the ball.”
The Purples kept their lead around double digits for most of the second half. They led 44-28 with 3:51 to go in the third quarter, but Charley McCoy answered for the Trojans with back-to-back 3-pointers to bring Barren County back within 10 at 44-34. Wade Coomer closed out the period with a free throw and a prayer at the buzzer to cut the Bowling Green lead to 48-41 as the final eight minutes began.
Leftwich led the Trojans in scoring with 13 points. Mabe and Billingsley contributed 10 points each, while Coomer had seven, and Bo Hubbard and McCoy scored six each. Ty Hay chipped in with three points.
Fant led Bowling Green with 18 points in the winning effort.
“I told the guys after the game that when you put this much time and effort into something and it doesn’t turn out like you wanted it to, it hurts. And that’s part of sports, a part of life. It doesn’t make you feel any better, but that’s part of it,” Cunningham said. “It is OK to hurt. But I told them after the game I couldn’t be any more proud of them if the scores had been reversed. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”