Turnovers … by Alan B. Gibson

Posted March 6, 2019 at 9:19 am

Proud of our Dawgs, more proud of our community!

The long drive home from Bowling Green after that last loss of the season is always a hard trip.

Last Friday night, it was especially hard, although there was some bittersweet flavor in the trip.

The Bulldogs took the loss much harder than anyone thought they might. The third quarter was our poison, with shots that wouldn’t fall, then bounced hard off the rim just outside of our outstretched rebounding attempts.

Bowling Green’s hot shooting and the officials allowing a much rougher, full contact style of play than we were able to deal with, translated into a Purple surge that left Clinton County too far behind to overcome.

We’ve made a lot of long trips home from Diddle Arena over the years, but this one was especially hard because it was the year that most of us close to the program thought would be different.

Not that we didn’t believe in our boys in past years, but it just seemed that all of the stars had lined up for this run. We had peaked at just the right time, winning our last two games with zest. The usually dominant 14th District seemed to be a little less dominant this year. Our Bulldogs had bought into the system.

Then it all fell apart early in the third quarter. After leading the Purples at halftime, Clinton County fell to Bowling Green by 13 points by the end of the game.

In another unexpected twist, the Purples fell in defeat the following night, dropping the championship game to the runner-up squad from the 14th District, Warren Central.

So, the 4th Region Champions, representing our region this week in the Rupp Arena-hosted Sweet 16, are the Dragons of Warren Central. Yep, that same Dragon team that made it to the state tournament semi- finals last year – but this year they have a different look, having picked up seven new players – all transfers from other schools – during the summer

Hard to do anything with that (are you listening Commissioner Tackett?)

As for the bittersweet mention at the start of this week’s musing, it was from being swelled with pride as to how our community jumped in to support our Bulldogs this season, and especially for the trip to Diddle.

Athletic Director Nick Irwin put out a call to the community to show our Bulldog Pride in supporting our young men as they prepared to make the trip west to Bowling Green, and the notion caught on like a fever… a blue fever.

Then, when we got to Bowling Green Friday night, it was clear that Clinton County certainly had the advantage in terms of crowd support.

Irwin, Coach Messer and Assistant Coach Mike Beard all made it a point to stress to me last week just how much that out pouring of support from our little community meant to the entire team.

Thanks to everyone who made the effort to let it be known that there’s no place like our home!

A few records to mention

So, now we head to Rupp Arena for the best week of the year as high school basketball action goes, the Boys Sweet 16 State Tournament – the Greatest Show in Hoops.

Before we watch these final 15 boys games that will lead up to Sunday’s crowning of a new champion for 2019, we’ll talk about a few accolades that our Bulldogs chalked up during this 2018-19 hardwood campaign.

Let’s start with our leader, head coach Todd Messer, who led the Bulldogs to the fifth championship of our 16th District during his 13 year tenure here.

Congrats are certainly in order to Todd on a job well done . . . again.

This year’s championship brings him to a tied status with long-time coach Lindle Castle, who also won five district championships during a 19 year career at Clinton County.

Currently, Messer holds an overall win/loss record of 248/142, compared with Castle’s overall mark of 273/216.

Player marks this season saw Jackson Harlan come in as the 11th top player in Kentucky in the category of points per game with a scoring average of 24.2 ppg. (Spence Macke of Silver Grove led the state with 34.9 ppg.)

Seth Stockton came in as the 34th best rebounder in Kentucky this season, pulling down 298 boards for an average of 9.6 per game (Spence also led the state in this category with 15.8 per game average).

As a team, the Bulldogs were the 47th best squad in points allowed per game at 56.2 (McCracken County lead by allowing opponents to score an average of only 45 points per game).

The Bulldogs also hit the top teams list in the category of margin of winning points per game with an average of 8.2 in the win spread over opponents (Scott County leads with an average victory margin of 23.3 points).

In team rebounds per game, the Dawgs were eighth in the state with an average of 36.4 boards per game (John Hardin High led with 39.4 rebounds per game).

One final side note: while looking up this year’s accolades amongst the trove of KHSAA list of records each year, I had to wonder just who this kid named Spence Macke was and where in the world is Silver Grove.

If you are wondering the same thing – well, here it is: Silver Grove competes in the 10th Region, which will be represented by Campbell County (29-4) this week in the Sweet 16.

On the season, with the state’s leading scorer and leading rebounder, the “Big Trains” finished the year 9-18.

Now for the Grande Finale

So, as I noted, we head to Lexington and Rupp for the final 15 games of this 2018-19 campaign, and finish off a great season of high school roundball action, then take a break of a two or three weeks, before we start to have withdrawal pains again.

I’m expecting Coach Billy Hicks’ Scott County Cardinals to hang the third championship banner now that star player Michael Moreno has returned to the lineup after an early season injury.

Still, that first-round matchup between the Cardinals and 2018 champion Covington Catholic will be one that shouldn’t be missed.

As for 4th Region champion, Warren Central, which has the misfortune of being in the same bottom bracket as Scott County and Covington Catholic? I’m still sending the Dragons back to Bowling Green with some hardware – a Final Four trophy after advancing to Saturday night’s semi-final round.

I’m in the gym, don’t call me until April!