Tigers use late push to get past Aces, advance to championship

March 1, 2019 | 11:37 pm

Updated March 1, 2019 | 11:48 pm

Peyton Survant looks for an open teammate in Owensboro Catholic's loss to Breckinridge County in the boys' basketball 3rd Region Tournament. | Photo by Ryan Richardson

In a game that was back and forth for three and a half quarters, one play shifted momentum the wrong way for good in Owensboro Catholic’s 70-59 loss to Breckinridge County on Friday in the semifinal of the boys’ basketball 3rd Region Tournament presented by Owensboro Health.

The Tigers (28-3) had just regained the lead on a 3-pointer, and Kobe Poole hit his first of two free throw attempts for a 55-52 lead. His second attempt bounced away but two Catholic players collided and the ball fell to Brock Lucas, who was fouled on his putback. He converted the and-1 for a 6-point Breckinridge County lead, and the Aces (18-12) weren’t able to recover.

Catholic missed a shot at the other end, Breckinridge added another basket, and the Tigers hit enough free throws down the stretch to keep the game safely out of reach.

“It was hard against a team like that for us to turn them over like we needed to during that stretch,” said Aces’ head coach Tim Riley. “We didn’t make a couple baskets, and all of a sudden the game kind of got away from us.”

Catholic couldn’t get any closer than 7 points in the final minutes, and the Tigers locked up a spot in the 3rd Region championship for the first time since 2004. Breckinridge County head coach Patrick Critchelow said after years of losing to the Aces in the tournament, it’s good to finally get over that hill.

“It’s an awesome feeling,” he said. “I can’t describe it. Our kids deserve it. I feel like we’ve been one of the best teams all year long. I’m excited to let these kids get a chance to do this.”

Owensboro Catholic vs. Breckinridge County | Photo by Ryan Richardson

Neither team could separate themselves early in the game, though they each held a 7-point lead at one point in the first half. Breckinridge County went up 18-11 late in the opening frame, while Catholic held a 31-24 advantage midway through the second.

The Tigers stayed on top through the entire first quarter, holding off a late rally for an 18-16 edge after one period. The Aces stormed back with shots from deep, and four 3-pointers in the first half by Peyton Survant helped them take a 34-32 advantage into the half.

Breckinridge County stayed on Survant for the rest of the game and limited him to a single 3-pointer after halftime.

“He kept us in the game,” Riley said of Survant. “You could tell they focused their defense in the second half on taking him away. We just didn’t make enough plays (to get the win).”

Ty Vincent scored the first three baskets of the third quarter for an 8-point Catholic lead, though the Tigers cut the deficit to 42-38 with 3:30 left in the frame.

Breckinridge County hit four consecutive 3-pointers — the first two by Tanner Whitworth and the others by Poole — to suddenly go up by 5 in just more than a minute of action. Neither team scored over the final 2:03 of the period to leave the Tigers with a 50-45 lead.

Owensboro Catholic vs. Breckinridge County | Photo by Ryan Richardson

The Aces took their final lead on a long jumper by John Parker, but Kaeveon Mitchell hit a 3-pointer at the other end to put Breckinridge County up for good. The putback on the missed free throw came a few plays later, and Riley said that play was a big factor in a tight game.

“I thought in the first half we played really well,” Riley said. “We had a poor third quarter, but then we got back in it. It was a 3-point game and we should have had possession of the ball. That was a big play.”

The Tigers will return to action Saturday at 8:15 p.m. when they face Owensboro in the championship game. The Red Devils (22-7) beat Muhlenberg County 47-32 in the other semifinal. Owensboro beat Breckinridge County 80-78 earlier this season in a game that came down to the final shot.

Breckinridge 18-14-18-20–70
Catholic 16-18-11-14–59
Breckinridge: Kobe Poole 23, Tanner Whitworth 17, Kaeveon Mitchell 12, Brock Lucas 5, Grant Riley 5, Cole Tabor 4, Joey Howell 4
Catholic: Peyton Survant 15, Ty Vincent 9, John Parker 8, Brian Griffith 8, Andrew Riney 7, Drew Hartz 6,  Zach Cecil 4, Ji Webb 2

March 1, 2019 | 11:37 pm

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