The last time the Greenwood boys’ basketball team advanced to the region finals in 2008, the Gators beat Barren County in the semifinals on the way to a win over District 14 rival Bowling Green in the championship game.
Thirteen years later, Greenwood hopes to be on the same path after bouncing Barren County with a 63-39 win in the semifinals Tuesday at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Greenwood (17-12) shot 52.4 percent from the field and held the Trojans to 30.2 percent shooting – taking control in the opening minutes and never looking back.
The Gators advance to face Bowling Green in the region championship game.
Greenwood coach Will McCoy was a senior in high school watching from the stands the last time the Gators advanced to the region finals. He had a front-row seat on the sidelines for Tuesday’s dominating performance.
“What an effort by our ballclub tonight defensively,” McCoy said. “That’s a super-talented ballclub that in my opinion is one of the best-coached teams in the state of Kentucky. I just credit my team tonight. They stuck to the game plan and we executed from start to finish.”
Greenwood never trailed, using a 12-0 run late in the first quarter to build a 19-6 advantage.
Cade Stinnett fueled the offense in the first half, outscoring Barren County 21-20 as the Gators’ halftime lead grew to 41-20.
Barren County, which rallied from 19 down in the fourth quarter in the District 15 Tournament against Glasgow, was unable to mount a similar rally Tuesday. Greenwood pushed its advantage to 49-25 after three and led by as many as 28 in the fourth quarter – holding Barren County to its second-lowest output of the season.
“That was one of our keys, to just come out and guard,” Greenwood senior Marc Grant said. “We knew their personnel. We studied them very well and we came out and defended very well.”
Stinnett finished with 31 points, going 12-for-18 from the field and 8-for-10 from the free-throw line. Grant added 11 points, four rebounds and four assists for Greenwood, which moves on to the fifth region title game in program history.
“The history – that is great and all – but we want to get the big win tomorrow and get back to state,” Stinnett said. “It was a great win for us tonight.”
Corbin Murphy led the Trojans with 10 points, while Mason Griggs added nine points.
“We couldn’t get enough stops, but we couldn’t score,” Barren County coach Warren Cunningham said. “We just couldn’t make some shots. I thought they did a nice job defensively, but we had some open shots. You have to make some of them to give yourselves a chance and we never did that.”
Barren County finishes the year 21-9 after losing one of the top players in the region, Aden Nyekan, four games into the season.
“It hurts tonight, but I think we will look back in a few days and be even more appreciative of the season we had,” Cunningham said. “The fact we got to play 30 games – not a whole lot of folks can say that. I don’t think anybody thought we’d play 30 games when the season started. From a coaching aspect this has been a fun year, this has been an easy year. They are a great group of guys that work hard and do everything we ask them to do.”
Greenwood will now face Bowling Green at 6 p.m. Wednesday at E.A. Diddle Arena. It’s a fourth straight year the region championship game has been an all-District 14 final and the ninth time in 12 years. It also extends the district’s streak to 20 straight region titles, with Russellville the last non-District 14 team to win the title back in 2001.
Bowling Green beat Greenwood twice in the regular season – 83-47 on Jan. 8 and 77-44 in last week’s District 14 title game.
“I’m giving them about a half an hour to enjoy this and then we are going to go and get ready for the Purples,” McCoy said. “We are going to have to try to do some things differently. We all know that they are a top-5 ballclub in the state, but I also know that if we play like we are capable of playing those last two scores aren’t a reflection of who we are. I hope the right team shows up tomorrow in green.”
BCHS 8 12 5 14 – 39
GHS 19 22 8 14 – 63
BC – Murphy 10, Griggs 9, Withrow 7, C. Stephens 4, Miller 4, Brooks 3, Taylor 2.
GHS – C. Stinnett 32, Grant 11, B. Stinnett 6, Brown 4, Howard 4, Raymer 3, Buchanon 3.