Back on Top: Central beats BG, wins first Region 4 title since 2013
Warren Central is back on top.
After suffering a heartbreaking 67-65 loss to Bowling Green in the District 14 championship back on Feb. 23, the Dragons avenged that defeat to the Purples with a 65-53 win over their archrival in the Region 4 championship game on Tuesday evening at E.A. Diddle Arena.
- Instant on-court celebration
- Warren Central’s William Unseld interview
- Warren Central’s Skyelar Potter interview
- Warren Central’s Jordan Cousin interview
Tuesday’s victory earned Central (29-5) its first region crown since 2013 and kept the Purples (23-11) – the defending state champions – from winning their fifth consecutive title.
“It’s something they’ll always have now,” Warren Central coach William Unseld said. “They’re a special group of kids. They stuck with it, they fought, and we’ve had a great year so far.”
The Dragons trailed 17-8 after the opening quarter and 25-23 at halftime but fought back in the second half. They outscored Bowling Green 15-9 in the third to be up 38-34 entering the fourth and held a lead throughout the final eight minutes, never allowing the Purples to come back.
Jordan Cousin led Warren Central, which had last season end in the semifinals of the district tournament, with a game-high 24 points and 12 rebounds and was one of three Dragons in double figures. Skyelar Potter finished with a double-double of 19 and 10, while Tayshaun Bibb scored 10 points.
“It means a lot,” Cousin said. “It’s my first time being in regional – and winning. I love to win. When I scored those 48 points (in the District 14 championship), I would rather have zero points (and win). I’ll say this ‘till the day I die, ‘I’d rather have zero points and win.’ I just wanted to win.
“And we won. That’s all I can say.”
The Dragons will now meet Southwestern – which beat Mercer County 48-46 in the Region 12 championship – at 5:30 p.m. CST March 14 in the opening round of the 2018 Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen Basketball Tournament at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
It was all Bowling Green early.
The Purples started hot and jumped out to a 10-2 lead at the 6:04 mark of the first quarter to quickly force a Warren Central timeout. Bowing Green pushed its advantage to 17-4 with 1:37 remaining in the period and led 17-8 after one as Jarius Key was already up to 11 points.
Warren Central fought back, though.
“We were a little tight and weren’t having any fun,” Unseld said. “We then started to have some fun. Shoot our shots, move the ball, let’s have a little fun. They started playing. We were good to go after that.”
A three-pointer by Potter just 59 seconds into the second brought the Dragons to within 17-11, but the Purples were right there to answer as Key scored a tough basket inside to put themselves up 21-11 at the 5:15 mark.
Once again, the Dragons came right back, using a 10-2 run – powered by another Potter three and a score inside by Tre Pillow – to cut their deficit all the way down to two at 23-21 with 2:04 left in the opening half. A basket from Cousin a minute later evened the scoreboard at 23-all before Key’s bucket gave Bowling Green a 25-23 lead at halftime.
“We just had to play defense. Defense wins games,” Potter said. “We played a little sluggish the first half, then we came out in the second half and Jordan got going. They tried to switch it up on me because I hit like four threes in the second quarter and got us back.”
Key had 17 points and four rebounds at the break, while Potter had scored 11. Warren Central shot 10-of-25 (40 percent) from the field in the half, while Bowling Green went 11-of-28 (39.3 percent). The Purples forced the Dragons into 10 turnovers, scoring nine points off those.
Key, a senior, led the Purples with 17 points and seven rebounds in his final high school game, while Trevor Dennis scored 12 and senior Ziyon Kenner added 10.
The two sides continued to go back and forth in the ensuing half.
Just like it did to begin the contest, Bowling Green opened the third quarter in a strong way as it quickly scored five points to build a seven-point lead of 30-23 at the 7:14 mark. Warren Central followed up by scoring on back-to-back possessions to make it 30-27 near the five-minute mark.
“We lost first round of district last year and then we lost in the semifinals (of region) at Barren County my sophomore year,” Potter said. “I was like, ‘I’m not going out again.’ We made it here and we executed.”
Jamale Barber’s deep three from the left wing later tied the two sides at 30-all with 3:14 remaining in the period – just before Potter scored on a fast-break layup to give the Dragons’ their first lead with just over two minutes left.
Five straight points from Cousin – highlighted by a buzzer-beating three that came from three quarters of the court – sent Warren Central into the fourth quarter with a 38-34 lead and much momentum.
“They were just a lot better when it mattered tonight,” Clubb said. “I’m sitting here racking my brain; I would’ve loved to come up with something to help the guys a little bit more because our kids were playing their tails off and trying to do everything they could to get a bucket, to get a stop.
“They were really good tonight.”
Cousin – and the Dragons – continued to fire over the course of the final eight minutes.
Back-to-back triples from Cousin and Potter pushed Central’s advantage to 45-36 at the 6:43 mark, giving it its largest lead of the night. The Dragons later led 49-40, but Bowling Green’s Trevor Dennis nailed a left-corner three to cut the Purples’ deficit to 49-43 with 5:36 remaining.
Cousin answered Dennis’ jumper with five straight points to put Warren Central up 56-45. Another three by the sharpshooter – followed by an acrobatic slam dunk by Potter – made it 61-49 and the Dragons held on from there to finally earn another trophy.
“I’m feeling great right now, man. It’s great,” said Potter. “The crowd we’ve got … I’m just shocked right now.”
Boys’ All-Region 4 Tournament Team announced
The following players were named Tuesday to the 2018 Region 4 All-Tournament Team:
Jamale Barber – Warren Central
Skyelar Potter – Warren Central
Micale Mee – Warren Central
Jordan Cousin – Warren Central
Jarius Key – Bowling Green
Trevor Dennis – Bowling Green
Isaiah Mason – Bowling Green
Kobe Brents – Glasgow
Jaden Franklin – Glasgow
Nik Sorrell – Glasgow
Nolan Barrow – Todd County Central
John Calvery – Todd County Central
Jackson Harlan – Clinton County
Ty Mink – Monroe County
Brayton Scales – Russell County