Sweet Sixteen | BG ‘humbled’ to represent District 14, Region 4
For a fourth-straight season, the Bowling Green boys’ basketball team will pack its bags and head to Lexington for what they hope is a lengthy stay, as it will be trying to win each of its games and walk out of Rupp Arena as Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys’ Sweet Sixteen State Basketball Tournament champions.
The Purples (32-2 overall) have played 18 games all-time in the Sweet Sixteen – with 11 coming from 2009 to 2016 – and sport a 9-9 record on Kentucky high school basketball’s biggest stage. With all 11 meetings in the 2000s era coming under D.G. Sherrill, the head coach says preparing to play in the tournament isn’t an easy task.
“Preparing for this tournament is pretty challenging,” Sherrill told The Sporting Times on Monday. “We have some long breaks between the Region and State Tournaments. We believe that during this time we need to make sure we keep fresh legs and fresh minds. We need to do our best to prepare for our opponent and try to stay as sharp as possible.
“We simply must try to be the best version of ourselves. There are a lot of potential distractions along the way.”
If one thing’s for certain, it’s that Bowling Green hasn’t shown any sign of distractions this season. With 32 victories, a fifth-straight District 14 Tournament championship, a fourth-straight Region 4 Tournament title and having not lost a single game since Dec. 20 to Covington Catholic in the King of the Bluegrass, the Purples are said to be one of the favorites entering the Sweet Sixteen.
BG is led by senior forward and Austin Peay signee Terry Taylor, who is averaging 17.4 points and 12.1 rebounds per game. Along with Taylor, an additional trio of Purples score in double figures and combine for 39.2 points per game in eighth-grade guard Zion Harmon (16.8), senior forward Kyran Jones (11.4) and senior guard DeAngelo Wilson (11.0).
“Playing in Rupp Arena is simply an unbelievable experience,” Sherrill stated. “Words can’t describe how overwhelmed and humbled we are to represent the 14th District and 4th Region. The Sweet Sixteen is the best high school tournament in the nation.”
BG’s journey to its first state championship – and just second all-time appearance in the title match – begins on Wednesday at 11 a.m. CST when it meets Region 1 champion Graves County in the opening round. The Eagles (27-7) captured their Region title by knocking off Mayfield in overtime, 77-71, in the title game back on March 7.
Graves County is led by 7-foot senior center Chris Vogt, who averages 16.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per contest. Although his stats for blocks aren’t listed, the Northern Kentucky signee’s average in that category is up, as well. Along with Vogt, sophomore guards Ryan Mathis (13.3) and Jordyn Naranjo (11.4) combine to score 24.7 points per outing.
“The first thing we need to understand is that there are no good draws in the State Tournament,” Sherrill added. All 16 teams are coming in as champions. Graves (County) has a couple very good guards. They are shooting the ball better than they have all season. (Chris) Vogt is a legit 7-foot Division I player. He does a great job of controlling the paint on both ends of the floor.
“(Jordyn) Naranjo and (Ryan) Mathis can both really shoot it and are good off the bounce. They will mix it up defensively. We have a very tough game ahead of us.”
Bowling Green and Graves County have met just twice all-time, with the last meeting coming on Dec 4, 2015 – a 62-50 BG win. Prior to 2015, the Eagles beat the Purples, 54-43, back on Dec. 19, 2003.