Red Devils shut down Mustangs to advance to title game

March 2, 2019 | 12:32 am

Updated March 2, 2019 | 12:34 am

Darrion Wimsatt drives for a score in Owensboro's win over Muhlenberg County in the boys' basketball 3rd Region Tournament. | Photo by Ryan Richardson

Shots weren’t falling for most of the night, but Owensboro used a stout defense to come away with a 47-32 win over Muhlenberg County in the semifinals of the boys’ basketball 3rd Region Tournament presented by Owensboro Health.

The game was riddled with turnovers at each end, but the Red Devils (22-7) came up with enough plays to earn a spot in Saturday’s championship.

Head coach Rod Drake said the offense didn’t move the ball as much as he’d like, but he won’t argue with a win. Playing in front of a big crowd with so much on the line played a role, Drake said, but his guys adjusted.

“We’ll take it,” he said. “We got a little sloppy. The ball stuck a little bit tonight. The guys got caught up in the atmosphere for while. Things came easy the first couple minutes. We settled and got it back together and pulled it out.”

Owensboro vs. Muhlenberg County | Photo by Ryan Richardson

The Mustangs (16-11) scored the first 4 points of the game but struggled to find consistency to put any significant runs together. Still, they limited Owensboro’s chances early and held a 10-9 advantage after the first period.

Muhlenberg County went up 14-13 with an easy bucket on a turnover. A free throw by Amari Wales and a floater by Darrion Wimsatt put Owensboro on top, and the Devils never trailed again. Wimsatt scored again on a long jumper and Wales sunk a 3-pointer, and Owensboro carried a 23-17 lead into the break.

The Devils got 6 straight points from Gavin Wimsatt to start the third, and they took their biggest lead of the night when Darrion Wimsatt got a steal under his own basket and laid it in for a 38-22 advantage.

Muhlenberg County’s Nash Divine was fouled on a 3-pointer with .7 seconds to play in the third. He converted all three free throw attempts to get his team within 38-25 heading into the final frame.

The Mustangs scored the first 7 points of the fourth to cut the deficit to 38-32 with 5:00 to play, but they didn’t score again for the remainder of the game. The only basket for the Devils in the final period came on a putback by Darrion Wimsatt late, though he and Wales combined to hit 7 free throws down the stretch.

Owensboro vs. Muhlenberg County | Photo by Ryan Richardson

Drake said Owensboro, like they have all year, leaned heavily on the defense to come away with a win. He knows they’ll have to play well at both ends in the next game, though.

“If we would have relied on the offense (all year), we wouldn’t be here today,” he said. “The defense picked it up. We made some pretty good steals. I’m glad we got this one out of our system.”

Owensboro will play for the region championship at 8:15 p.m. Saturday when they face Breckinridge County. They Tigers (28-3) beat Owensboro Catholic 70-59 in the other semifinal. Owensboro edged Breckinridge County 80-78 earlier this season in a game that came down to the final shot.

“If they can’t get pumped for tomorrow, then they’re in the wrong sport,” Drake said. “They’ll be ready tomorrow. It’s going to be a first for a lot of them, so they just have to be ready to play.”

Most of the roster had little to no varsity experience heading into this season, so Drake is glad with each victory he can get.

“With a young team winning for us like this, the future is bright for us,” he said. “I’ll take it. The only way they get petter is with experience. You have to live with some of the turnovers and some of the decisions they make.”

After a tightly contested meeting the first time around, Drake expects the same thing Saturday night with a trip to the state tournament at stake. He put it simply:

“It’ll be a dogfight.”

Owensboro 9-14-15-9–47
Muhlenberg 10-7-8-7–32
Owensboro: Darrion Wimsatt 17, Gavin Wimsatt 12, Amari Wales 11, Aireon Phillips 3, Imonte Owsley 2, Jaiden Greathouse 2
Muhlenberg: Nash Devine 14, Isaac Rose 6, Landon Gunterman 6, Asher Carver 2, Hayden Perkins 2, Alex Johnston 2

March 2, 2019 | 12:32 am

Share this Article

Other articles you may like