Dunbar, Doss squeeze into title game

March 19, 2016 FieldsColumn

Darius Williams (23) goes up against NewCath in Saturday's semifinals. (Photo by Tim Webb)

Darius Williams (23) goes up against NewCath in Saturday’s semifinals. (Photo by Tim Webb)

When Doss and Paul Laurence Dunbar got together for a pre-season scrimmage at Taylor County last fall, a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, little did they know they would end the season in Rupp Arena playing for the state championship.

“Funny how things happen,” Doss Coach Tony Williams said.

To get to Sunday afternoon’s title game, Doss and Dunbar had to survive tough semifinal tests Saturday night in the 99th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen.

Doss trailed South Laurel 60-56 with less than 3 minutes left, but the Dragons closed with a rush and won 70-63.

The turning point down the stretch may have been when South Laurel’s 6-foot-8, 265-pound Caleb Taylor was called for his fifth foul with 1:47 left and the Cards up 60-59.

“I was just so happy they decided to blow that whistle,” Williams said. “Once (Taylor) went out with his fifth foul, there was a sense of relief.”

Jaylon Hall scored the last 5 points for Doss at the free-throw line and finished with 17. Stephon Franklin had 16 for the Dragons. Kel’Shawn Knight-Goff had 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 blocks. Laron Hargrove added 10 points and 7 rebounds.

Jared Grubb led South Laurel with 22 points. Taylor finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Andrew Griffith added 11 points and 9 rebounds.

Dunbar had its third tough game in 4 days, but it survived again, beating Newport Central Catholic 55-47. Darius Williams, who struggled earlier in the week, had his best performance of the tournament with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 3 steals.

The Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys Sweet 16 State Basketball Tournament, at Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY, Doss' Kenyi Bryant battles South Laurel's Caleb Taylor for a rebounds in Saturday's semifinals. (Photo by Tim Webb)

The Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys Sweet 16 State Basketball Tournament, at Rupp Arena, Lexington, KY, Doss’ Kenyi Bryant battles South Laurel’s Caleb Taylor for a rebounds in Saturday’s semifinals. (Photo by Tim Webb)

“Today is the kind of game we expect of Darius, the kind of games he’s had all year,” Coach Scott Chalk said.

Williams got plenty of help. Taveion Hollingsworth had 18 points and 5 rebounds. Jordan Lewis had 5 points, 3 assists and just one turnover while running the show. He’s had only one turnover in 73 minutes of state tournament play.

“There’s no substitute for a point guard that you know isn’t going to turn the ball over,” Chalk said. “That’s been the constant all year. That’s been the difference.

“The No. 1 analytics stat for high school basketball is if you have the least turnovers, you’ll win more games than not. That’s what we’ve had this year.”

NewCath’s Ben Weyer, a 6-foot-6 senior, dominated the Thoroughbreds’ first two games in Rupp, had 16 points and 9 rebounds against Dunbar. Luke Moeves added 14 points for NewCath.

Chalk credited Dontell Brown for keeping Weyer from dominating the Bulldogs.

Chalk expects a fast-paced, up-and-down battle with Doss. He didn’t recall much about the pre-season scrimmage except that “it was a rough time for both of us; we both were a little raw.”

Williams remembers that the scrimmage ended in a tie.

That can’t happen tomorrow. Either Doss or Dunbar is going to win its first state title after coming close before.

Doss lost to Owensboro 57-56 in the 1980 finals. 

Dunbar lost to Marion County 85-77 in the 1993 championship game, and to Fairdale 59-56 in the 1994 finals.

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