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South seniors come up big in final home game

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By Brad Stephens

CRESTWOOD – Thursday night against Woodford County was the last time a group of nine South Oldham players took the Dragons’ home floor.

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South needed just about all of them to hold off the Yellow Jackets.

Senior guard Zach McWilliams scored a team-high 18 points and the Dragons were able to beat Woodford 74-71 in their regular season finale.

South (18-3) will be the No. 1 seed in the District 29 tournament, which starts Tuesday in Goshen. While Thursday’s win didn’t affect the postseason picture, it illustrated why the Dragons think they’ll be a tough out in the tournament, McWilliams said.

“That’s just us,” McWilliams said. “We’ll keep fighting no matter what and it’s a great way to go out, it being our last game at home. For these nine seniors in our last game, it’s a great win for us to go 18-3 on the season. It’s a great way to end everything.”

South had the momentum early. The Dragons got a boost from senior point guard Jonathan Blair, who came off the bench after missing the last three weeks with a hip injury.

Blair played eight minutes, assisting a McWilliams 3 on his first possession back. He finished with four points.

“We play well together so I’m excited for him to be back and to be 100 percent again soon,” McWilliams said of Blair.

South led 45-36 early in the third quarter after Dragon guard Kyle Young scored on a steal-and-layup.

Yellow Jacket guard Eli Boggess got his team right back in the game. The senior totaled 24 points through first three quarters and Woodford took a 56-55 lead into the fourth.

“On the scouting report we had him down as their best player,” South coach Steve Simpson said. “They have three guys that can score, they have three guys that can go off the dribble. You have that at the high school level, that’s hard to guard.”

Woodford ran that lead out to 63-57 with 4:42 left when Young picked up his fifth foul, just seconds after picking up his fourth. The senior guard finished with 10 points in his final home game.

With Young out, some of his fellow seniors filled the void. Michael Griffin scored 14 points. Drew Bullock scored eight, including hitting a 3 that gave the Dragons a 64-63 lead with 2:12 left.

Drew Greenwood came up big, too, scoring 16 points. He hit 3’s on back-to-back possessions that made the score 72-71 in favor of South with 50 seconds left.

“Before the game started, one of the seniors said, ‘I love all these seniors, love the underclassmen, you guys are my brothers. We want to go out with a win,’” Simpson said. “…I thought they grinded it out and did what they had to do.

The Dragons made their lead 74-71 with 13 seconds left on two Bullock free throws. Woodford coach Scott Hundley called a timeout to set up his team’s final play.

In the opposite huddle, Simpson’s message was to guard Boggess, Greenwood said.

“(Simpson) was like, ‘If you want to go out with a win, you’ll stop this guy right here,’ Greenwood said. “So we were like, ‘It’s our mission. We’ve got to stop him.’ So we did.”

McWilliams, who’d fell and hurt his elbow a minute earlier, drew the defensive assignment on Boggess.

Boggess caught a pass at the top of the key, dribbled left and took an off-balance 3 with McWilliams guarding. The shot bounced off the rim and South survived.

“He scored on us all night,” McWilliams said. “I knew he was going to have to shoot a 3 because we were up. I wasn’t going to foul him, obviously, I didn’t want him to get to the free throw line. So I just put my hands up and luckily he missed. He was making everything.”

Colton McCrady and Grayson Graf scored 13 and 10 points each for Woodford in the loss.

South now turns its attention to Trimble County, who it meets at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at North Oldham. The Dragons beat the Raiders 93-40 in December, but Simpson has spent recent weeks telling his team not to overlook the district’s No. 4 seed.

“They’re going to bring it at us,” McWilliams said. “They’re going to give 100 percent effort. We’ve got to bring ours too. We don’t want to go out the first round of districts.”

 

Woodford County – 19, 15, 22, 15 – 71

South Oldham – 21, 16, 18, 19 – 74

Woodford County – Boggess 32, McCrady 13, Graf 10, Souers 8, Shelton 4, Couch 2, Scandore 2

South Oldham – McWilliams 18, Greenwood 16, Griffin 14, Young 10, Bullock 8, Blair 4, Fields 2, Horsey 2