Sweet Sixteen now a Final Four

March 18, 2016 FieldsColumn

Darius Williams (23) helped Dunbar get by Bowling Green in the quarterfinals. (Photo by Tim Webb)

Darius Williams (23) helped Dunbar get by Bowling Green in the quarterfinals. (Photo by Tim Webb)

The final four of the 99th Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen is all set. Saturday night’s semifinal matchups in Rupp Arena look like this:

  • Newport Central Catholic (30-4) vs. Paul Laurence Dunbar (31-6), 6:30
  • Doss (29-5) vs. South Laurel (29-6), 8:15.

NewCath is in the semifinals for the first time since 1953 when it lost to eventual champ Lafayette. Coach Ron Dawn’s Thoroughbreds have been led by 6-foot-6 senior Ben Weyer, who’s been nothing less than fabulous in wins over Trinity and Murray.

Dunbar, state runner-up to Marion County in 1993 and to Fairdale in 1994, came into this Sweet Sixteen as the top-rated team. Junior standout Taveion Hollingsworth has been smoother than Jif peanut butter in leading Scott Chalk’s Bulldogs past Mercer County and Bowling Green.

Doss is the final four for the first time since 1985 when it lost to Clay County. The Dragons were state runners-up to Owensboro in 1980. This year’s team, coached by Tony Williams, beat Lawrence County in the first round, then won a grind-it-out battle with Taylor County in the quarterfinals. Jaylon Hall totaled 38 points in those 2 games, including 21 of 24 free-throw shooting. Doss has hit 43 of 61 foul shots.

South Laurel, state champ in 2005, was ranked the second best team in the Sweet Sixteen. Still, the Cardinals surprised some people by beating Christian County in the first round. They cruised by South Oldham in the quarterfinals. South Laurel has relied on a good inside-outside game. Caleb Taylor, a 6-8, 265-pounder, has been a force in the paint. Jared Grubb has led a balanced perimeter attack.

Saturday night’s winners advance to Sunday’s 2 p.m. title game.