Streak Over: Barren County hands BG first region loss, home defeat since 2015
As the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
The Bowling Green boys’ basketball team’s dominant 50-game winning streak against Region 4 opponents was snapped on Tuesday night, as BG suffered a 68-64 loss to Barren County at Bowling Green High School. It also ended the Purples’ 32-game home winning streak.
Prior to Tuesday, the Purples (9-6 overall, 2-1 Region 4) hadn’t lost a single game in regional play since falling 64-58 at Warren Central on Jan. 16, 2015. It was their first loss at BGHS since dropping a 69-66 decision to Owensboro on Feb. 10, 2015.
“It’s a good win against a good team and a good program,” Barren County coach Warren Cunningham said following Barren County’s marquee victory. “Wins over these guys have been few far in between over the years. I was proud of how our guys really battled. It was a battle on both ends for 32 minutes.”
As Cunningham stated, the Trojans and Purples competed at a high level from the opening tipoff all the way to the final horn. Multiple lead changes, numerous runs, many big-time shots – the game featured it all.
Bowling Green held a slim 12-9 lead after the opening quarter and then 32-25 at halftime. It then ended the third up 51-44, but Barren County (8-5, 4-1) turned things up a notch in the final period and with hot shooting and hard-nosed defense was able to pull out a tough win.
“They had a big win streak against 4th Region opponents and it just felt great to come in here and beat them on their home court,” Barren County guard Jared Coomer said. “It was a great atmosphere to play in. It seems like each year they always beat us in the region tournament, and this year we got them back.”
Coomer and Parker Stephens each scored 21 points for the Trojans while Will Bandy added 11. Barren County shot 48 percent from the field – including a 67 percent mark in the second half – and made seven three pointers. It also shot an impressive 81 percent from the free-throw line.
The Trojans’ consistent offense – especially their second half shooting – played a major factor in the outcome of the affair.
“We’ve been struggling from the field a little bit,” Cunningham said. “We made some shots Friday night against Glasgow. Our guys have been in the gym working. We worked pretty extensively yesterday in terms of getting in the gym and getting some extra shots in. We shot the ball with confidence and we took good shots.
“I think that’s a big key, too.”
The two sides exchanged baskets all throughout the opening quarter and Barren County led 12-9 after one. Eli Thurman had scored six of Bowling Green’s nine points while Coomer and Stephens each had five for the Trojans.
Trailing by three, the Purples opened the second on a 7-0 run to take a 16-12 lead at the 6:27 mark. A steal and score by Trevor Dennis then made it 18-12 and moved the run to 9-0 but Barren County responded with a bucket by Stephens and a pair of Bandy free throws to cut its deficit to two.
“They were being really aggressive trying to catch back up,” Bowling Green coach Derrick Clubb said. “They kind of had the momentum and then, all of a sudden, every possession mattered for us. We weren’t as solid as we needed to be defensively to get those one or two stops that we needed.”
Bowling Green used another run – this one an 8-0 surge – to build a 26-16 advantage. At that point, the Purples were outscoring the Trojans 17-4 in the quarter.
Barren County responded with a pair of scores from Stephens and one from Coomer to trim their deficit to 32-25 at halftime. After two quarters, Thurman had nine points to lead BG while Stephens had scored 11 for the Trojans.
“Jared is consistently in double figures but what we’ve been lacking is having some of those other guys,” said Cunningham. “Parker had 21 tonight, Will had 11. That makes a huge difference for us.”
The Trojans continued to battle in the second half.
At the 4:32 mark of the third quarter, Barren County got within three at 37-34 with the use of a 7-0 run. Bowling Green responded by scoring five straight – highlighted by a one-handed slam dunk by Jarius Key – to take a 42-34 lead near the three-minute mark.
A three pointer by Isaiah Mason helped the Purples rebuild a double-digit lead, but Landon Key’s three from the left wing at the buzzer cut Bowling Green’s advantage to 51-44 entering the final quarter.
“We could never get that stop,” Clubb said. “They would always hit a big shot or we might have a turnover or something and we never could get it to 14 or 16 (points) – and those are always dangerous things. I think we gave up a 7-0 run, and just like that it was a ball game.”
Down just three at 54-51, Stephens nailed a three to tie the contest at 54-all with 5:36 remaining. The two sides then evened the scoreboard at 58-58 with just over two minutes left.
Garrett Arterburn’s basket with 2:06 left gave Barren County a 60-58 lead before a pair of Ziyon Kenner free throws tied it at 60-all. On the other end, Coomer hit a tough baseline jumper to put the Trojans back in front by two.
“We just had to fight through adversity,” said Coomer. “We got down and they went on a little run. We just told ourselves that we had to keep fighting back – and that’s what we did the whole game.”
The Trojans and Purples continued to trade baskets throughout the final minute, but Barren County was able to knock down clutch free throws and escape with a marquee Region 4 victory on the road.
Both teams return to action on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. as Barren County hosts Adair County and Bowling Green welcomes Greenwood into Purple Gym for a District 14 matchup.
“I thought our kids kept playing hard and gave ourself a chance to be in the game – even down to the last three seconds,” said Clubb. “I was proud of them for that. I thought they really fought and competed.”