By JAMES BROWN
The Warren Central Dragons continued their post-season run Thursday in the KHSAA Boys’ Sweet 16 Tournament at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
The Dragons turned a hot start and hot finish against Mayfield into a 73-55 victory. The victory sets up a meeting with Madisonville-North Hopkins tonight at 8 p.m. eastern. The Maroons held off Lincoln County, 57-49, on Thursday.
This is the year Warren Central was not supposed to get back to the state tournament. In the off season, the Dragons lost seniors Skyelar Potter and Jordan Cousin, who led them to the state semifinals last year. They lost there to Scott County.
Potter, Cousin and the three other seniors lost from the 2018 squad were replaced by Boyd, Kobe Brents and Chris Horn, each of whom transferred to Warren Central. But two returning players from last year have fueled the post-season push — Tayshaun Bibb and Jamale Barber.
Coach William Unseld said during the Fourth Region Tournament that he was leaning on their experience to get the team where it is now.
Junior guard Dre Boyd had a big night at Rupp for the Dragons and it started early. Forty seconds into the game, he buried a layup. It was the first two points of his 18-point night in which he hit 9 of 16 shots from the field. He grabbed 10 rebounds as well.
Bibb came through as well with 15 points. He was 4-for-4 from the field and 7-of-8 at the foul line. Bibb also grabbed eight rebounds.
After Boyd’s early basket, the Dragons outscored the Cardinals 10-4 to lead 12-4 on a 3-pointer by Kamden Lawrence with 2:49 to play in the first quarter.
The two teams played even the remainder of the period. Warren Central led 16-9 at the end of the opening quarter.
The Dragons stretched their lead to 17-9 early in the second period on a made free throw by Bibb, but from there the Cardinals rallied.
Mayfield posted an 11-0 run over the next three minutes, capped by a 3-pointer from Huston Lancaster at 4:40 in quarter.
Tegra Muleka tied the game with a 3, 29 seconds later and Warren Central did not trail again in the game.
Muleka’s 3-pointer ignited a 13-6 run for his team for the remainder of the first half. The Dragons led 30-26 at halftime.
Warren Central outscored Mayfield 43-29 in the second half en route to win 21 this season.
Boyd, 18; Bibb, 15; Pillow, 13; Muleka, 9; Lawrence, 7; Brents, 6; Barber, 3.
Matthews, 12; Guthrie, 12; Neely, 11; Jones, 7; Lancaster, 6; Guthrie, 5; Daniel, 2.