By DOUG EADS
STANFORD — Same two teams — same tournament. This time however, there would be a different outcome.
And unfortunately for Somerset, the Briar Jumpers would not be able to notch the repeat this time around.
After dispatching Wayne County in the first round of the 12th Regional Basketball Tournament last season at Pulaski County High School, Jeron Dunbar and Somerset ran up against the Cardinals once again on Tuesday night at Lincoln County High School in the opening round of this year’s tourney.
And this time around, it would be Rodney Woods’ club that would make the plays late to gain the ‘W’.
Aubrey Weaver scored 17 of his game-high 24 points in the first half, helping lead Wayne County to a 59-52 win over Somerset, ending the Jumpers season with a 16-15 record.
“I am extremely proud of my guys,” stated coach Dunbar following the contest.
“We are the youngest team in the region, and we put up a heck of a fight,” continued the Somerset coach. “Hats off to Wayne County. We played the way we needed to win, but they (Cardinals) hit some really good shots.”
Weaver was a one-man wrecking crew in the opening half of play — a half that saw Wayne County go in with a 28-26 lead over Somerset.
The senior forward tallied 17 of those 24 points in the first half, but Somerset would respond, forcing Wayne County to have to play from behind.
In the second half, the Jumpers reclaimed the lead, but the Cardinals — as Dunbar eluded to — hit some big shots to thwart the Somerset rally.
Kade Grundy tried to keep the Jumpers close, as the sophomore guard tallied 22 points in the loss, while teammate Jase Bruner added 10 points for Somerset.
The loss to the Cardinals ended Somerset’s season with a 16-15 mark, but Dunbar pointed out that, despite the bitter loss on Tuesday night, there are better days ahead for the Somerset basketball team.
“We knew coming in we had to take away their three’s, and out perimeter defense was good, but Wayne County just hit some tough, contested shots tonight,” stated Dunbar.
“I think our inexperience showed up some when we were ahead, but all of that will play out,” he added. “These guys had a great year of experience. There are going to be some fun years coming up.”
The Final Four of the 12th Regional Tournament is now set for Friday night.
In game one at 6:30 p.m., Danville will take on Pulaski County, while the nightcap will feature the homestanding Lincoln County Patriots squaring off against Wayne County immediately following the first game.
The championship game of the tournament will be held on Saturday night at 7 p.m.
If you can’t make it to ghe game, Friday night’s PC-Danville contest can be heard on Somerset’s iHeartRadio on LAKE 102.3 FM, with yours truly and Melanie Hines bringing you all of the action.