Familiar foes square off on the hardwood tonight when Bowling Green plays at Warren Central in boys’ basketball.
It will be the first of at least two meetings, although recent history suggests it could be more than that.
The two schools have played 12 times in the last three seasons, with each school winning six times. Warren Central took the Region 4 crowns in 2010 and 2011. Bowling Green beat the Dragons in the Region 4 title game last season.
The schools have combined to win 10 of the last 11 region titles.
Both have started slower than expected this season.
Warren Central is 10-5, but is 0-1 in District 14 after a 55-46 home loss to Warren East last week. Bowling Green comes in 8-8, and is looking to improve to 3-0 in district play.
Despite the struggles, it is still a huge game on both sides, Warren Central coach William Unseld said.
The Purples are trying to get back in the conversation as one of the top teams in the region, but a win tonight would be a significant confidence boost, BG coach D.G. Sherrill said.
“We know that our ceiling is still pretty high this season, but this is a pretty tough test for us,” Sherrill said. “Central has some nice Ws on their schedule so far and Warren Central is a tough place to win basketball games. We are going in (today) knowing that the challenge is pretty significant and we have to play mistake-free basketball.”
The Purples have won three straight after a 1-6 stretch, including an 0-3 showing in the King of the Bluegrass in Louisville.
“Our competition was pretty significant and we didn’t do a good job of competing in those games,” Sherrill said. “What we hope we are starting to do is give ourselves a chance to compete and win games. Now it is about trying to be consistent. We’re not there yet, but I’m proud of the effort my guys are putting out.”
Warren Central has shown flashes this season, with a 30-point win over Barren County and a 31-point win over Clinton County, but has had its troubles in close games. The Dragons are 3-4 in games decided by nine points or less, struggling to close out games at the free-throw line. In last week’s loss to Warren East, Warren Central was 11 for 27 from the line, and 1 for 10 in the fourth quarter.
“Eventually, we’ll step up there and make them,” Unseld said. “We have a lot of kids that it’s their first time in big games. We shot better the other night (in a win against Glasgow), but it’s cost us a couple of games earlier this year. Basically what it comes down to is in the fourth quarter, you have to be tough enough to step up there and make those shots. We can make them the first three quarters. We just struggle in the last quarter.”
Limiting turnovers and transition points is key, according to both coaches.
“It’s going to be a good ol’ barn burner-type basketball game where you can’t take a possession off or rest on defense,” Sherrill said. “You are going to have to focus. Coach Unseld has them playing at a really high level effort-wise. You have to be ready for that. If not, they can blitz you as you’ve seen them do a few times this year. Barren County and Clinton County are good basketball teams and Central blitzed them, so we’re going to have to be ready to play.”
Unseld said that with one home loss already, tonight’s game has added importance.
“You want to win as many of those as possible because it’s hard to come up with a victory on the road in this district,” Unseld said. “We definitely have to try and get one (tonight) since we lost last Friday. We have to keep trying to play well and keep aiming to get better and go from there.”