Dragons win third straight Region 4 championship, punch Sweet Sixteen ticket

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Winning regional championships and booking trips to the state tournament has become a consistent theme for the Warren Central boys’ basketball team.

The Dragons did it in 2018. They did it in 2019. 

Now you can add 2020 to the impressive list.

Warren Central used an all-around team effort and executed its game plan nearly perfectly to record a 53-42 win over longtime rival Bowling Green on Tuesday night in the Boys’ Region 4 Tournament championship at E.A. Diddle Arena to three-peat and punch its ticket to next week’s Sweet Sixteen. 

“Our schedule set us up for this,” Warren Central coach Will Unseld said. “We played some tough games. We battled. They keep fighting, which is what you expect. I’m proud of my kids, and they responded well to it.

“It feels great. I’m happy for my kids. They deserve all the credit, man. They let us push them. We’ve been going hard since the dead period ended. I told them, ‘We did all of that for this right here.'”

Kobe Brents finished with 16 points to lead the Dragons (26-7 overall), while Dre Boyd scored 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and Tay Smith tallied 12 points.

“We worked hard all year for what we wanted,” Boyd said. “We came and we got it. We just knew it was going to be like that. We knew we were going to have to bounce back from the district (championship) loss (to Bowling Green). We just came back and got them back when it mattered.”

Isaiah Mason led Bowling Green with 13 points, and Turner Buttry scored 10. The Purples finished the season 26-8. 

The Dragons will face Region 2 champion Madisonville-North Hopkins in the opening round of the Sweet Sixteen on Wednesday, March 18 at Rupp Arena in Lexington. Tipoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. CT. 

Warren Central controlled the first quarter.

The Dragons jumped out to a 7-0 lead at the 5:42 mark, and back-to-back baskets by Geovonni Floyd put them up 16-5 late in the period. Tegra Muleka’s 3-pointer soon after sent Central into the second leading 19-7.

Bowling Green put together a 7-0 run – highlighted by Conner Cooper’s three-point play – to get within 19-14 at the 6:29 mark of the second, but Smith scored five straight points to put the Dragons up 24-14 at the 4:38 mark.

“It’s special,” Smith said of winning a third straight title. “I’ve done it since I was a sophomore. Being a senior, it’s a different feeling because this is our team — my year, the seniors’ year. We just did what we had to do.”

Mason hit a pair of 3s for the Purples, but Warren Central held a 28-20 advantage at the break.

Jessie Wright and Boyd scored on two straight possessions to give the Dragons a 34-24 lead at the 5:54 mark of the third quarter, and a pair of Boyd free throws made it 36-26.

The Purples answered with a 5-0 run – three of those points coming from Buttry – to trim their deficit to just 36-31 entering the fourth.

“We knew there were going to be runs,” Boyd said. “We were surprised to be up the whole game, so we knew it was going to be a game where it would be up-and-down. We just answered back and got the win. Good team effort. Everybody did their part.”

Buttry’s 3 and a Mason bucket helped Bowling Green tie it at 36-36 early in the final quarter, but Central scored five quick points to take a 41-36 lead at the 5:05 mark.

The Dragons went up 46-38 with a left-corner triple by Brents, and he knocked down another with 1:28 remaining to make it 51-42 and seal it. 

“Hats off to Warren Central — they played a great game,” Bowling Green coach Derrick Clubb said. “Very deserving champion. I thought we played hard the whole game. We just didn’t shoot the ball very well. A lot of shots that we’ve been making just didn’t go in for us.

“We’ve got a lot of kids in this locker room that’ll be back next year. We’ll get some time off and then it’s time to get back to work.”

WCHS –  19    9     8    17   —   53

BGHS –     7   13   11   11   —   42 

WC: Kobe Brents 16, Dre Boyd 14, Tegra Muleka 12, Tegra Muleka 5, Geovonni Floyd 4, Jessie Wright 2. 

BG: Isaiah Mason 13, Turner Buttry 10, Conner Cooper 9, Cobi Huddleston 5, Dorian Morrison 5. 

Boys’ Region 4 All-Tournament Team:

  1. Anthony Woodard, Logan County
  2. Dalton Thompson, Logan County
  3. Chase Stines, Clinton County
  4. Tay Smith, Warren Central
  5. Dawson Smith, Cumberland County
  6. Mason Shirley, Allen County-Scottsville
  7. Jose Nazario, Logan County
  8. Dorian Morrison, Bowling Green
  9. Andreyous Miller, Franklin-Simpson
  10. Blake Melton, Clinton County
  11. Isaiah Mason, Bowling Green
  12. Turner Buttry, Bowling Green
  13. Kobe Brents, Warren Central
  14. Dre Boyd, Warren Central
  15. Aden Nyekan, Barren County

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