When Jeff Cothron was introduced as Somerset’s new head basketball coach last summer, one of the first goals the Jumper coach said was at the top of his list was to bring his alma mater back into prominence within the 12th Region.
Mission accomplished coach.
It had been almost five years since the last time the Somerset Briar Jumpers had taken part in the Boy’s 12th Regional Tournament, and Somerset’s last win in a regional tourney came on March 6, 2008 in the opening round of that event, knocking off Wayne County 38-33.
After almost five years of frustration, Somerset had plenty or reason to celebrate late last night at Lincoln County High School.
Ryan Dishman scored the Jumpers last four points on Tuesday night, and came away with a big-time steal in the waning seconds, helping Somerset rally for a thrilling, 51-50 victory over Boyle County, making the Jumpers the lone local team to move on in the tourney.
With the win, Somerset improved to 19-9 on the season and advanced to Friday night’s semi finals, where they will meet up against Mercer County, who sent the defending regional champion Southwestern Warriors packing in last night’s first game with a 56-54 upset win over the Warriors.
Not a bad first year on the job, huh coach Cothron?
“I’m just so proud of these kids and our school, in just trying to bring the program back up to where it needed to be,” stated Cothron.
“It really does mean a lot to me to see these kids enjoying what we’re doing,” remarked the Somerset coach. “You’re in this business for the kids, and to see them enjoying something like this is very enjoying.”
As for the game itself, Cothron could have hardly scripted a better beginning to the game than the one his club got off to last night against Boyle County.
The Jumpers began the game with a 9-0 spurt, with Cam Cheuvront leading the charge out of the gate, scoring six of his 10 points in the first period.
However, the Rebels would respond, calling a timeout with 3:49 remaining in the first stanza trailing Somerset by that 9-0 score.
Over the next 11:49 of the first half, the Rebels would outscore Somerset 22-10, to take a 22-19 lead over the Jumpers into the intermission.
In the third period — thanks to back to back three-pointers by Hagan Tyler to begin the second half of play — Boyle County had its biggest lead of the night at that juncture, leading Somerset early in the third frame by a 28-21 margin.
Later, it appeared as if disaster had struck Somerset and foiled any shot whatsoever of a Briar Jumper victory.
Tyson Williams was called for his third foul of the night, and eventually, got hit with a technical foul, giving him his fourth personal foul of the contest.
Boyle County’s Brett Jones hit both of the technical free throws, giving the Rebels a 34-26 lead over Somerset with 4:18 left in the third period.
At that point, Somerset was in big-time trouble staring adversity squarely in the face.
“We’ve been in tough games all year — playing Pulaski three times, Southwestern three times, Wayne County, and Newport Central Catholic,” pointed out Cothron.
“Although we didn’t play well against Pulaski in the district finals, we fought the whole game and we competed the whole game,” added the Jumper coach. “We had to do that tonight and not get shook up to win this game, and when our backs were up against the wall, we responded when we needed to.”
After falling down to the Rebels by that 34-26 score, Ryan Dishman hit a huge trey the next trip downcourt, cutting the deficit down to five points at 34-29, but there would be much more to come from the junior guard.
Another trey by Dishman with 3:17 remaining in the game pushed Somerset back out into the lead for good — leading Boyle County 47-45.
After Boyle County’s Chapman Bean nailed a jumper out of the corner to knot things up for the final time of the evening at 47-47, Dishman scored on a putback off of his own miss, and then hit a pair of free throws with :37 remaining in the game, giving Somerset a 51-47 lead.
However, the Rebels wouldn’t go away quietly.
A three-pointer from Bean with :19 left brought the Rebels to within a point of Somerset at 51-50.
Coming out of a timeout, Somerset inbounded the ball to Dishman, but the ball was slapped off of his leg out of bounds for a turnover, giving the Rebels the ball and a shot to win this one at the end.
After a couple of timeouts, Tyler was fouled by Matt Gordon with just :05 left in the contest, sending the Rebels to the free throw line for a one and one and a chance to take the lead.
Tyler missed the front end of the bonus, but his teammate Micah Miniard got the offensive rebound.
However, Dishman came out of no where to steal the ball and preserve the hard-fought win for Somerset, sending the Briar Jumpers into Friday night’s semi final matchup against Mercer County.
“This was a typical first round regional game,” pointed out coach Cothron.
“All of the teams here are good, and all the teams here are going to fight you from start to finish, because we’re all here battling for the chance to go to Rupp Arena, and everybody here knows it,” remarked Cothron. “It’s going to be highly contested and hard fought, and we were fortunate to persevere here tonight.”
The semi finals of the tourney are now set.
In Friday night’s first game which will tip off at 6 p.m., Wayne County will tangle with West Jessamine, while Mercer County will meet up against Somerset in the second contest, slated to tip off at around 7:30 p.m.
The two winners on Friday will meet on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in the championship game.
SHS — 13 6 12 20 — 51
BC — 8 14 14 14 — 50
SOMERSET — R. Dishman 15, Weddle 12, Cheuvront 10, Williams 7, Gordon 3, Coomer 2, Purcell 2.
BOYLE CO. — Tyler 14, Bean 11, Jones 10, Martin 9, Miniard 6.