In March 13-19 Issue
By Derek Aaron, Times Journal Sports Editor
The Mighty Lakers fell in defeat to Bowling Green on Monday night in the semi-finals of the 4th Region tournament, 57-48, at Western Kentucky’s Diddle Arena.
Russell County, coming off an exciting win over Glasgow in the first round, came out with the hot hand. The Lakers led by one-point, 10-9, over the Purples at the end of the first quarter, then outscored Bowling Green in the second quarter as well, 14-13, to go into halftime with a 24-22 lead over the Purples, led by South Carolina football commitment D.L. Moore.
The Lakers shot 43 percent from the field in the first half, led by Bryon Ellis’ seven points and Bryson McFall’s six points.
The Laker defense held the Purples to 33 percent shooting from the field in the first half and caused eight Bowling Green turnovers.
In the third quarter, the Lakers and Purples traded baskets as both teams scored 14 points.
The fourth quarter saw the pace of the game heat up as the Lakers tried to keep up with the Purples, who had more depth.
The Lakers were outscored in the final frame by 11 points, 57-48, and the Purples managed to get the right calls at the right times. The Lakers did hit 13 of 16 free throws for 81 percent in the game, a positive note for Willie Feldhaus’ club.
Bryon Ellis ended the game with 16 points in 30 minutes of play while Bryson McFall had 13 points and three rebounds.
Sophomore Robbie Bell had nine points and six rebounds while Adam Justice had six points and four rebounds for the Lakers. Senior Timmy Coffey had four points and nine rebounds in his final high school game.
Senior Josh Popplewell, Kyle Burchett and Lucas Justice played but failed to score for the Lakers.
“Our kids done everything we asked them to,” Feldhaus said. “They worked hard.”
Feldhaus said he wanted to have a chance to win going into the fourth quarter and that he stressed that to his players and they responded.
“We were a couple of breaks away from being in the game going into the last minute,” he said. Feldhaus noted how his two seniors, Timmy Coffey and Josh Popplewell, meant to the program.
“I’ll be very honest, I don’t know who’s going to fill their void right now,” he said. “We got some kids that have to grow up mentally and mature and we got some kids that need to get stronger to fill the void that (Coffey and Popplewell) gave us.”
He said at least two starting jobs are now up in the air because of the departing seniors and that his current underclassmen must step up this off-season and take on a larger, more productive role.
Feldhaus, whose teams have gotten to the regional semi-finals for the second time in as many years, said he hoped success would become the trend for Laker basketball.
“That’s what I’m most proud of,” he said. “In the three years I’ve been here, when we win a game in the regional tournament we believe there is a chance that we can win two more ballgames.”
He said he told his players that if they keep knocking on the door that eventually they’d get through and steps taken the past few years show that the Laker basketball program is healthy and stable.
Feldhaus said his Lakers will take the next month or so off before weight training begins.
“After that, we will let them play and have open gym and not listen to me,” he said. Once school is out, preparations for next season will begin.
The Purples had four players in double figures, Tevin Barksdale, Billey Williams, Jarren Nixon and D.L. Moore. In all, 10 players saw action for the 23-9 Purples.