• Bill Caine, Woodford Sun Sports

Jackets lose WCI final to West Jessamine, 88-63

JUNIOR GUARD ANTHONY TABOR floats past a pair of Frederick Douglass High School defenders in the Jackets win on Dec. 20 in the Woodford County Invitational semi-final. (Photo by Bill Caine)

SENIOR FORWARD NICK SMITH drives through a pair of defenders in the WCHS win over Frederick Douglass on Dec. 20. (Photo by Bill Caine)

The West Jessamine Colts defeated the Woodford County high school boys' basketball team 88-63 in the finals of the Woodford County Invitational on Thursday, Dec. 21. The first quarter was evenly matched but West Jessamine started to pull away in the second quarter by creating turnovers in the passing lanes. The Colts out-scored the Jackets 29-14 in the third quarter and never looked back.

The game started with a fast pace. Junior Brandon Cromwell hit a three-pointer and the Colts scored on a layup. Junior forward Corey George made a pair of jump shots from the free throw line. West Jessamine junior Dalton Bruner hit a three in the corner and then stole the ball from senior Nick Smith and scored on a breakaway layup. WCHS Coach Ryan Wilson called a timeout and the Jackets responded with a pick and roll out that led to a layup by junior Ryan Duke. Bruner scored another layup and the Jackets answered with Cromwell and Smith making three-pointers. The game was tied at the end of the first quarter.

The Jackets started the second quarter on a 7-0 run that included a pair of free throws by Cromwell after WJHS Coach Damon Kelley was called for a technical foul for arguing with a referee. The Colts turned up the pressure on defense and quickly tied the game scoring on layups created by turnovers. In all, the Colts went on a 12-0 scoring run before the Jackets scored on a pair of free throws by junior Anthony Tabor. West Jessamine led by eight at halftime.

The third quarter began with a Jacket turnover and a Colts basket. The Jackets cut the lead to five points with a three-pointer by Smith and a jump shot by Duke. Cromwell stole the ball at half court but Bruner stole it back for the Colts and scored on a layup. Woodford turned the ball over repeatedly in the third quarter and the Colts were able to capitalize on the mistakes. The Jackets trailed by 23 points heading into the fourth quarter.

The Jackets were unable to cut into the lead and Wilson cleared the bench with three minutes to play. The starters received a nice hand from the crowd and the reserves played the remainder of the game. Tabor, Cromwell and Smith were named to the All-Tournament team.

“This one hurts,” said Wilson. “I don't have to say much to them because I know this one already stings. The good news is that we have a few days off now for Christmas so they will have to chew on this one for a few days.

“Give credit to West Jessamine, they are a heck of a team but we did not execute what we planned at all. We go into the break 8-2 and we know we can be better.”

Frederick Douglass

The Woodford County boys' basketball team defeated Frederick Douglass, 68-58, on Wednesday, Dec. 20 in the semifinals of the Woodford County Invitational. The Jackets went on a 13-2 run late in the third quarter to extend their lead to 17 points at the end of the third quarter and the Broncos never recovered.

“We shared the ball really well tonight,” said Wilson. “They (the Broncos) want to force you into mistakes but we played with level heads tonight and limited the damage. That is a sign of our team maturing and we are very pleased with how they have handled adversity this season.”

“It felt great to be able to perform like this in front of our home crowd,” said Tabor. “When it's your home tournament, you have to come out and show what you can do. I think we knew we had to be smart with the ball in order to win this game. It feels great to get to the championship.”

The Jackets started the game with a 7-0 run with baskets by Cromwell and Smith. The Broncos scored on a three-pointer to make the score 9-5. Neither team scored a basket over the next three minutes. Tabor broke the slump with a fantastic drive to the basket, scoring between three Bronco defenders. The Jackets led 13-11 after one quarter.

Tabor started the second quarter by making a three-pointer off the glass. The Jackets forced the Broncos into consecutive turnovers but were unable to score with the chances. The Broncos scored a basket in the post and immediately went into a press defense. The Jackets were able to break the press and Tabor passed to a wide open Cromwell who hit his second three-pointer of the game. After Cromwell made another three-pointer, the Broncos went on a 8-0 run to close the deficit to eight points before Cromwell scored on a layup to end the half.

The Broncos started the second half on a 4-0 run and cut the Jacket lead to six points. After Wilson called a timeout, the Jackets were relentless on the offensive glass. Jayden Hamilton grabbed Tabor's missed shot and scored in the post. Duke, then stole the ball and passed to Tabor who knocked down a jumper from the free throw line. The Jackets forced the Broncos into four straight turnovers and led 49-32 after three quarters.

Frederick Douglass used speed and defensive pressure to get back into the game in the fourth quarter. The long, athletic Broncos created turnovers in the passing lanes to create easy layup opportunities and get back into the game. Woodford regrouped and were able to break the press, finding Duke open in the corner for a pair of threes that helped neutralize the Broncos comeback. The Broncos were forced to foul the Jackets in the last 90 seconds of the game. The Jackets made eight out of 10 from the line to seal the win. Cromwell led all scorers with 22 points, Smith scored 17.

“We didn't let anything get to our heads tonight,” said WCHS junior Alex Morgan. “We knew the pressure was coming and just made sure to take care of the ball. “

“I haven't been shooting well lately so it was nice to make a few down the stretch,” said Duke. “The best advice I ever got was to keep shooting through a slump and tonight it paid off.” “Thanks to my teammates for finding me for open looks at the basket. Anthony did a great job driving to the middle and forcing the defense to collapse which opens up guys like me on the wing.”

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