Shirley’s shot lifts Patriots over Dragons in OT
SCOTTSVILLE – Mason Shirley did it – again.
Exactly one month ago in a game against Greenwood, Shirley – a sophomore guard – hit a half-court buzzer-beater to give Allen County-Scottsville a 74-71 win at Patriot Gym. Fast forward a month later and Shirley has delivered more heroics.
With his team tied 75-all against Warren Central on Monday evening, Shirley came up clutch yet again – making a tough pull-up jumper with 1.2 seconds left in overtime to lift ACS to an electrifying 77-75 win over the Dragons in the second round of the inaugural Kentucky Class 2A Sectional Tournament at Patriot Gym.
“I mean, it’s just big,” Shirley said of his second game-winning shot of the season. “I had a terrible night shooting and just didn’t really have a good game, but my teammates just stepped up and kept me in the game and kept my hopes up. I knew they had confidence in me. Even if I go 9-for-9 or 0-for-20, they still want me to take that shot.
“I just tried to make a play with it.”
Shirley’s shot wasn’t the only big bucket the Patriots had.
When Allen County-Scottsville was down 71-69 with 9.6 seconds left in regulation, Jax Cooper grabbed an offensive rebound and strongly laid it back in just before the buzzer to send the game into overtime with the scoreboard knotted at 71-all.
While Shirley – who went just 2-of-12 from the field and scored six points – caught the spotlight with his game-winner, he was quick to compliment his teammate Cooper on his performance, which included 18 points and seven rebounds in addition to his basket in the fourth quarter.
“How about Jax Cooper? That boy’s good, isn’t he? People are gonna start recognizing him,” Shirley said. “He’s a hard worker, man. This whole team is full of hard workers – and I just love this team.”
Allen County-Scottsville – now 14-2 on the season – trailed 15-11 after the opening quarter and 35-32 at halftime. The Patriots outscored Warren Central 21-15 in the third to take a 53-50 lead into what-would-be an exciting final period.
The Dragons (8-4) used a nice run to build a 70-60 lead with 1:41 remaining, but the Patriots responded – and in a big way – with a quick 9-1 run to make it a one-point contest with just under 10 seconds on the clock. That’s when Cooper stepped up and helped ACS send things into an extra frame.
As the affair remained tight throughout the overtime period, the Patriots were able to deliver the final punch with Shirley’s big shot to come out on top with an impressive victory.
“It was a big deal for this program, a big deal for this community and a big deal for these young men to be able to relish in the moment of beating a powerhouse,” Allen County-Scottsville head coach Brad Bonds said. “These young men believe in each other and they believe in our system. I can’t tell you how proud I am of their resiliency and their fight. We were really close down 70-60 to losing ourselves, but I had a couple of leaders step up and kind of tighten the seams.
“They went out and made plays.”
As Shirley and Cooper delivered the big shots, it was junior forward Owen Stamper, senior guard Brett Rippy and Cooper that led the way. While Stamper scored a game-high 22 points, Rippy finished with 21 points to add to Cooper’s previously-mentioned 18.
The Patriots shot 23-of-52 (44.2 percent) from the field, knocked down six 3-pointers and forced 20 turnovers on the defensive end.
With ACS’ win, it’ll now meet the winner of Webster County and Caldwell County in the Section I semifinals on Saturday night at Hopkins County Central High School. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.
The two sides were tightly contested over the course of the first few minutes as Warren Central held a slim 5-4 lead at the 4:53 mark of the first quarter. The Dragons built a seven-point lead soon after, but Allen County-Scottsville responded with a 3-pointer from Rippy to get within 13-11 with under a minute remaining in the period.
Just 20 seconds later, Kamden Lawrence scored inside to put Central up 15-11 after one.
Six straight points from Geovonni Floyd stretched the Dragons’ advantage to 23-15 at the 5:21 mark of the second. However, five straight points – including a wide-open three – from Cooper helped the Patriots quickly cut their deficit to 23-15.
“We were coming into tonight excited about this game,” Stamper said. “We got down and had some leadership step up. We made some plays and it ended up doing well for us down the stretch.”
Both teams continued to exchange baskets throughout the remainder of the half. A score inside by Cooper and Stamper’s right-wing three brought ACS within 33-30 – but just before Dre Boyd grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back in to put Warren Central up 35-30.
A pair of free throws from Stamper helped ACS go into the break only down 35-32. Boyd was leading the Dragons with eight points at the break, while Stamper had already scored 12 for the Patriots. Cooper was up to 11 at that point.
Boyd finished with a double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds in Central’s loss, while Kobe Brents made five 3’s and scored 18 points.
Warren Central opened the second half in a strong way as Brents splashed back-to-back triples to give his team a 41-32 lead at the 5:53 mark of the third quarter. Despite trailing by nine, Allen County-Scottsville responded with a 7-0 run to even the scoreboard at 46-all.
Just after a jumper from Cooper, ACS forced a turnover and again fed Cooper inside, who scored on the second straight possession to give the Patriots a 48-46 lead with just over two minutes left in the third. Rippy’s layup just before the buzzer put ACS up 53-50 entering the final quarter.
“They made plays. We didn’t make plays. They made all the plays down the stretch and we didn’t,” Warren Central head coach William Unseld said. “These are learning lessons. We didn’t defend and they took it to us. They wanted to win – and this was a big win for them.”
Jamale Barber’s triple with 4:13 left gave Warren Central a 62-58 lead, and it extended to 68-60 just three minutes later. Boyd’s tough score inside soon after put the Dragons up 70-60, but Allen County-Scottsville wasn’t calling it quits.
Trailing 70-67 with 1:02 left, Rippy knocked down a pair of free throws to bring the Patriots within 70-69. Then, down 71-69 with 9.6 seconds left with the ball under its own goal, ACS scored on Cooper’s put-back just before the horn to send it into overtime.
Stamper made a pair of free throws to put the Patriots up 75-73, but Tegra Muleka answered with a tough bucket to tie it with just over a minute to go. That’s when Shirley did what he does best and helped his squad come out on top.
“We don’t give up,” said Shirley. “I don’t think it’s as big of a surprise as it is for everyone else because we knew we could do it. It was tough, and we had to fight. The fans and the crowd were awesome tonight – and we feed off that.”
Warren Central – 15 20 15 21 4 – 75
Allen County-Scottsville – 11 21 21 18 6 – 77
WC – Dre Boyd 21, Kobe Brents 18, Jamale Barber 9, Tegra Muleka 8, Tayshawn Bibb 7, Geovonni Floyd 6, Kris Horn 2, Antonio Barbee 2, Kamden Lawrence 2.
ACS – Owen Stamper 22, Brett Rippy 21, Jax Cooper 18, Bryce Carter 6, Mason Shirley 6, Michael Smith 2, Camden Carver 2.