By JAMES BROWN
Bowling Green punched its ticket to the quarterfinal round of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Sweet Sixteen with a 20-8 third-quarter run against Graves County on Wednesday at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
The Purples are in the Boys’ State Tournament quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive year with their 68-51 win over the Eagles. Graves was back in the state tournament for the first time since 2013.
Terry Taylor sparked the decisive run with a steal and a jumper about a minute into the third period. Brenden Young answered for the Eagles with a jumper of his own that kept his team within 2 points, 33-31.
That was the last gasp for Graves.
Kyran Jones tipped in his own missed shot then Taylor grabbed a missed Graves County shot attempt and scored on another jumper. Next, Jarius Key threw down a dunk with an assist by Jones.
Zion Harmon stole the ball for the Purples, which led to a layup by Key. The Purples were on a 10-2 run less than four minutes into the second half and they led 41-31.
Jones followed with a free throw before the Eagles’ Trevor Grant broke the run with a jumper.
Bowling Green finished the quarter on a 9-4 run. Jones hit a free throw, Harmon drilled a 3-pointer, hit a layup and nailed another 3 before the clock expired to give his team a 51-37 lead after three quarters. The Purples’ lead was only 31-29 at halftime.
The Purples turned Eagles turnovers into points as they scored 12 off of turnovers in the third period. They only had five points off turnovers in the other three quarters combined.
Taylor, who is committed to Austin Peay, led the way for Bowling Green with 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor. Harmon added 17 points, Kyran Jones scored nine and grabbed 11 rebounds, Trey Jones and Deangelo Wilson each scored 7.
Jordyn Naranjo led Graves County with 11 points.
The Purples (33-2) will play at 11 a.m. (CT) Friday against the winner of tonight’s game between Scott County and Pulaski County.
(NOTE: Stats and play-by-play information for this story is courtesy of the Kentucky High School Athletics Association.)
James Brown is digital director for Commonwealth Broadcasting. He spent 20 years covering high school sports in Kentucky and Mississippi. You can listen to his show Brown Sports Bag on ESPN 1230 AM in Glasgow at 4 p.m. each Monday. He is joined by veteran basketball coach John Butler. Follow him on Twitter @JbrownESPNKY.