By David Leveridge – Bluegrass Sports Nation coverage team.
Jackson, KY. The Finals of the 14th Region Boys Tournament, between the Perry County Central Commodores and the Knott County Central Patriots was a game that will be talked about for years to come. Regional Finals are an exciting time in the Bluegrass, the arenas are packed to capacity and excitement is absurd for all people involved. Perry County Central entered the Regional Tournament as the prohibitive favorite and are the winners of the 54th District Tournament. Knott County Central entered the Region as the runner up’s in the 53rd District Tournament.
Knott County Central has been the Region Champion 5 times in the last 7 years. Coach BB King has done an outstanding job as the Coach of the Knott County Central Patriots. The game tonight was one of the greatest games in recent memory of the 14th Region Tournament. The game went to double overtime with Perry County Central ultimately prevailing with a seven point win.
Final score: Perry County Central 57- Knott County Central 50.
Perry County Central faced a challenging road to get to the Regional Finals. In the opening round of the Regional Tournament, Perry County Central faced the Region Host, the Breathitt County Bobcats. Perry County escaped the game with a 7 point victory by the score of 66-59. In the second game Perry County Central faced another strong opponent in the Letcher County Central Cougars. Letcher Won the 53rd District Championship. Perry County Central also won this game by 7 points in a game that wasn’t decided until the closing moments of regulation. Final score: Perry County Central 57, Letcher County Central 50.
Knott County Central was in the bottom half of the Region Bracket & their road to the finals was also challenging, but had larger leads in the closing moments. Knott County Central played Wolfe County in the opening round of the Region Tournament. Knott County Central won this game by 19 points by the score of 71-52. In the Semi -Finals of the Region, Knott County Central took on the Estill County. The Engineers were winners of the 56th District Tournament. Knott County Central prevailed in this game by 15 points by the score of 45-30.
In the opening quarter of the Championship game, the teams traded baskets and both teams were trying to feel each other out, with no team able to get a significant lead. The game was tied at 2 with 4 minutes remaining in the opening quarter. The last minute of the first quarter was very exciting and set the tone for what was to come in the game. Knott County Central was down 4 and KCC Austin Combs hit a 3 point basket as time expired in the first quarter. PCCl led by 1, 11-10.
Perry County Central came out hot to start the second quarter. PCC Austin Hill and Anosike made a couple of jump shots and Perry County Central was up 5. The lead wouldn’t last long as Knott County Central had an answer to cut the lead. KCC’s Dalton Cornett hits a corner 3 to cut the lead to 2 points. The teams would trade baskets to end the half as Knott County Central was able to get some breathing room in the last minutes of the half. KCC Combs scores 5 points late in the half, and Knott County Central had a 5 point lead at intermission 22-17.
The second half started and Knott County Central played their best basketball of the game. In the third quarter, Knott County Central had settled into their offense and were able to get Perry County Central’s big dominating front line, in foul trouble. With the lead Knott County Central was able to slow down the ball and get away from the run and gun style, that suited Perry County Central style better. At the end of the third quarter Knott County Central had a comfortable lead of 8 points. Knott County Central was now in control of the game and Perry County Centrals chances of winning the game were diminishing as the clock ticked away.
The final quarter is one to be remembered and will be talked about for ages. Perry County Central came into the final quarter refocused and knew if it was going to have a chance at winning the lead had to be cut fast, as Knott County Central would slow down the ball and limit the possessions. PCC’s Austin Hill gets hot and hits 2 consecutive 3 point attempts without Knott having an answer on the other end. Suddenly the lead had been shrunk to 2 points, and the fans on both teams were now ecstatic and cheering feverishly loud. Perry was soon able to score 2 points with the Damon Tobler drive. PCC was able to get the lead with a Hill jump shot. Knott County Central soon had an answer as Austin Combs drove to the basket and scored, and tied the game again. both teams continued to trade baskets, but with a tie score at 36, Perry County Central Damon Tobler would hold the ball for the last 2:30 of regulation. Perry was going for the last shot and not giving the hot shooting Knott County Central an opportunity to score. PCC drove to the basket and took the shot, but wasn’t able to convert sending the game in to the first overtime.
In the first overtime Perry County Central jumped up to an early 5 point lead with 2:30 remaining in the first overtime. Perry relinquished the lead as they were unable to convert from the free throw line. Knott County Central was able to hit a 3 point basket and was able to convert from the free throw line. Knott County Central was down 3 points in the closing seconds of Overtime #1 when they were able to hit a 3, tying the game again and sending the game to a second overtime.
The second overtime the game intensified and each teams fan bases were on the edge of their seats. Foul trouble was now becoming an issue for both teams, both had several starters with four fouls each on several starting players. KCC went up 2 early in the second overtime, but Perry would counter. The teams would trade baskets the next couple of minutes and neither team was up by more than 2 points. In the end the Perry County Central size with Tobler and Akinimie was able to get the ball inside and score, PCC’s Hill also hit a couple of 3 point shots. With 1:19 remaining in the second overtime Perry County Central was up 2 points. Knott County Central was fouled and Isaac Caudill went to the line, missing both attempts with a chance to tie. Perry got the rebound and was soon fouled. Perry was able to hit the free throws that they missed in the first overtime. Perry County Central was able to build on its lead, and a regional championship was inevitable. Perry County Central would go on to win the game by 7 points, 57-50.
In conclusion, the Regional Championship was everything to be expected. Two of the best teams in the Region going head to head, a packed arena with 2 excited fan bases and a game that will be remembered for years. Perry County Central was able to advance, but Knott County Central played an outstanding game and also deserved the win. Perry County Central will represent the 14th Region in the KHSAA Boys Sweet Sixteen Basketball State Championship Tournament where they will take on the Pikeville Panthers, the winners of the 15th Region. The game will be played on Friday March 17, 2017 @ 1:30 pm in the historic Rupp Arena.
Bluegrass Sports Nation started something new this year with Pre Game interviews and Post -Game Press Conferences that were shared on Social media sites Facebook and Twitter. I was fortunate enough to be part of the BSN team. The exposure that it has gave the Schools, Coaches, Players and fans of each school has been phenomenal with thousands of views, and shared dozens of times. During the Post-Game Press Conferences, we got to witness teams overjoyed from a huge victory taking the press room being ecstatic. The losing teams that entered the Press Conference were coming off a devastating loss and many High School players that have played their last games. Everyone that participated seemed to really enjoy the exposure and created memories that will last a lifetime.