AC-S survives second-half Russellville charge at region
By Don Meador, AC-S Sports information Director

Posted on March 21, 2021 8:05 PM

AC-S survives second-half Russellville charge at region


A solid defensive effort and four Patriot players in double figured scoring lifted the Allen County-Scottsville Patriots to a 53-48 win over Russellville Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Region 4 tournament. The victory came despite the Panthers outscoring the Patriots 31-23 in the final 16 minutes of action.

Playing at Patriot Gym due to a change in this year’s tournament scheduling, the Patriots raced to an early 6-0 lead following buckets from Michael Smith, Jax Cooper, and Tyler Ford. AC-S stretched their lead to eight, 11-3---a surge keyed by a tight man-to-man defensive effort. However, the Panthers pieced together a 6-0 run to end the first period and pulled to within a basket, 11-9.

Ford, fresh off a career night against Barren County in the District 15 title game, sank three free throws and made a jumper to help AC-S build a 16-10 lead early in the second. While the Patriot defense including the hard-nose effort by Trace McIntyre on the Panthers’ top player---continued to frustrate Russellville, AC-S’s offense closed the first half on a 14-7 run. Cooper’s three-pointer at the buzzer lifted the hosts to a 30-17 halftime lead.

A pair of buckets from Smith---a game day decision due to an ankle injury in the closing minutes of the Barren County game---and Mason Shirley enabled the Patriots to double the score early in the third frame. However, the Panthers refused to fold. After trailing 37-21 with 5:25 remaining in the third, Russellville outscored AC-S 8-3 to narrow the Patriots’ lead to 12, 41-29, after the third.

  The Panthers continued to close the gap behind the play of Lennon Ries. The junior scored nine of his game-high 16 points over a three-and-a-half-minute span, thus enabling Russellville to close within six by the 3:40 mark, 46-40. Moments later, a basket by Jovari Gamble pulled Russellville to within four. However, Shirley and Ford answered---Shirley with a thread-the-needle pass to Ford who finished the shot to push the lead to six once again.

Russellville followed with a three-point play to come within three, 48-45, with 2:33 remaining. After both teams missed scoring opportunities, Shirley hit one of two free throws to make it a two-possession game with just over a minute left. After the Panthers failed to answer, Shirley sank two foul shots to lift AC-S to a six-point lead. After a 3-pointer by the Panthers’ Jaquis Todd with 15 seconds left, Shirley sealed the win with two free throws.

Shirley finished with a team-high 15 points while grabbing seven rebounds and handing out seven assists. Cooper and Ford added 12 points with Smith contributing 10. On the glass, Smith also had seven rebounds with Cooper picking up five.  

For Russellville, Ries concluded his strong postseason run with 16 points. Allen was solid with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Gamble added 8 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, an assist and a steal. Todd, who drew two fouls early and sat out most of the first half, finished with 5 points, less that a third of his average on the season.

The Patriots sank 19 of their 44 shots (43.2%) and went 13-17 (76.5%) at the line. Russellville was 17-47 from the field and 10-13 at the line. AC-S won the rebounding battle, 33-24. The Patriots also scored 32 of their 40 non-free throw points in the paint.

AC-S (16-7) advances to the Region 4 semifinals on Monday night and will face Bowling Green (21-2), a 66-50 winner over Clinton County. The Purples defeated the Patriots 65-54 on March 2. The trip to the semifinals is AC-S first appearance in the region’s final four since 2005---a game which was the final game for then AC-S coach D.G. Sherill. Later that year, Sherill accepted the coaching position at Bowling Green. Monday’s game start at 6 p.m. at E.A. Diddle Arena at Western Kentucky University. The winner moves into Wednesday’s championship tilt against the winner of Tuesday’s Greenwood and Barren County match-up.

Coach Carlos Quarles’ Panthers—making the team’s first trip to region in the seniors’ four years—finished with a 9-11 record.

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