The Blue Devils jumped to a 13-2 lead during the first quarter and a 34-14 margin in the second. But the Knights came to play and cut the margin to eight in the fourth quarter. But an Eddie Jackson slam stemmed the tide and started a 6-0 Lebanon run as the Blue Devils won for the ninth straight time and the 14th time in their last 15 games, improving to 23-7 for the season.
“With (Tyree) Boykin, they’re a team with six seniors so they got a lot of character about them,” Lebanon coach Jim McDowell said of the Knights. “I was proud of the way our kids came out and executed early. We hit a lull there and maybe got a little complacent. I was proud of the way at the end of the game when they turned the pressure up we were able to attack it and handle it. I’m really proud of the way these kids responded down the stretch.
“Cameron Oliver has been battling sickness and came back and played. Eddie Jackson responded after not having his best two games in the district tournament. He was a force for us.”
Jackson was consistent across the board with 19 points and dominant on the boards with 18 rebounds. Oliver sank three 3-pointers on his way to 17 while JaKeese Turner turned in 12, including a pair of threes. Noah Mulaski’s nine included a couple of threes while Jeremiah Hastings had seven.
Boykin was almost a one-man gang for Kenwood with 24 points, including five triples, as the Knights reached the end of a 14-14 season.
Next up is a semifinal meeting with Mt. Juliet at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Brandon Gym. The Golden Bears, no stranger to road wins in region play during coach Troy Allen’s 12-year tenure, are looking for a third straight sectional berth. The winner will advance to next Thursday’s region final and the March 6 sectional.
This is believed to be the first meeting between the Bears and Blue Devils this deep in tournament play as the schools weren’t in the same region until eight years ago.
“It’s going to be a war,” McDowell said of the third meeting of the season with the West Wilson rival, the first two of which were won by the Blue Devils. “Troy Allen is a great coach and I know he’ll have his guys ready to play.”
While waiting for the Bears and Blue Devils to take center stage, Northeast, the lone District 10-AAA first-round winner after winning at Station Camp, will battle Beech, which knocked off District 10 champion Northwest, at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Monterey stuns Watertown 63-61
WATERTOWN — Seven nights after experiencing the high of an upset district championship, Watertown’s boys endured the crushing end of its season as Monterey came to town and stunned the Purple Tigers 63-61 in the Region 4-A tournament opener.
Monterey will be back in town Tuesday night for the 7:45 p.m. semifinal against Pickett County while the Purple Tigers watch from the sidelines, their 23-7 season over, wondering how a 15-18 team beat them twice in three meetings. The Wildcats followed an 84-66 loss at Watertown on Dec. 2 with a 74-70 win on the Cumberland Plateau one week later.
“We don’t match up very well with them,” Watertown coach Matt Bradshaw said. “They have a couple of 6-5 kids inside that cause us trouble and quick guards. We did a good job with the big kids inside but we didn’t do a very good job against their dribble penetration. Their quick guards gave us all sorts of trouble.”
One formula for staging a tournament upset is by getting in the first blow to get the lead and, more importantly, confidence. Monterey did that by jumping to an 18-12 first-quarter lead. Watertown rallied to go up 30-28 by halftime. It was 46-46 going into the fourth period.
Watertown had possession as time ran out but a final shot came after the buzzer.
“We had a lot of other opportunities during the course of the ballgame, we just didn’t capitalize on them,” Bradshaw said.
Brian Stamps scored 14 points, Peyton West 12 and brother Tyrus West 11 from the Monterey backcourt while Dalton Coleman had 13 from inside.
In the final game of his spectacular high school basketball career, Seth Price poured in 20 points, including four three-pointers. Final career point totals were unavailable late Saturday, but Bradshaw said Wilson County’s only 2,000-point scorer finished with more than 2,200.
Another senior, Austin Lasater, finished with 15 points while Ty Love added eight, Preston Tomlinson six, Heath Price five, Blake Borcherding four and Vonte Bates three. Love had six rebounds while Heath Price produced five assists and four steals.
Tuesday’s semifinal round will begin with a highly-anticipated 6 p.m. tip off between Clay County, with Indiana State-signee Tyreke Key, and District 8-A regular-season champion Goodpasture.
Sanders returns to lead Bears to another region road win
SPRINGFIELD — Mt. Juliet’s boys have been a dangerous road team in Region 5-AAA play during coach Troy Allen’s 12 seasons, and the No. 3 Golden Bears bit another victim Saturday night as J.R. Sanders came off the injured list to lead the visitors past No. 2 Springfield 47-43.
Sanders, who injured his ankle during the District 9-AAA semifinals and missed the consolation game, came back with 24 points, including four three-pointers. He had 15 in the second half, including nine in the fourth quarter as the Golden Bears rallied from a 37-31 deficit at the start of the stanza.
“He came out focused and motivated,” Allen said of Sanders, a senior three-year starter and the District 9 most valuable player. “He wouldn’t let us lose. He had a blocked shot with under two minutes left. One of the best games of his career.”
Springfield led 10-9 following the first quarter and 20-18 at halftime before the Yellow Jackets’ season ended at 23-7.
Mt. Juliet improved to 22-9 and punched its ticket for a semifinal rematch with Lebanon at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Blue Devils’ Campbell Brandon Gym/Hester Gibbs Court. It’s the deepest point in tournament play the Bears and Blue Devils have faced each other as they weren’t in the same region until eight years ago. LHS won both regular-season meetings.
While Sanders was spectacular, Allen said the key was the defense as Springfield was led in this game by Aaron Gardner’s 10 points.
“We held their two leading scorers to nine points each,” Allen said. “Trey Pruitt, Brian Aiken, Jordan Lockridge and Terrell Wilson rotated on them. We tried to keep a fresh guy on them at all times and they did a good job.”
Joey Hayes hit a pair of three-pointers as he and Pruitt each scored six points while Aiken finished with five, Wilson four and Isaac Stephens two.
The wins by Mt. Juliet and Lebanon guarantee Wilson County will have a representative in Thursday’s region final and the March 6 sectional. The Golden Bears are looking for their third straight trip to the round of 16, having lost at Hillsboro the past two seasons. MJ has never won a region championship.