By DOUG EADS
The Somerset Briar Jumpers had been near or at the top of the 12th Regional standings all season long.
On Monday night at Pulaski County High School in the semi finals of the Boy’s 12th Regional Basketball Tournament, an old nemesis — the Danville Admirals — were standing in Somerset’s way to a regional title game appearance.
And, the Ads came out like a house on fire.
After losing to Somerset in both regular season meetings, Ed McKinney’s club was looking to make a statement on Monday night, and the Ads did just that.
Danville came out and punched Somerset squarely in the mouth, leading the Briar Jumpers by 17 points at halftime, and despite a valiant comeback effort, Somerset would fall in heart-breaking fashion thanks to a last second tip in from Jalen Dunn, helping Danville escape with a 66-64 victory.
Wow, what a game.
Danville — thanks to some red-hot shooting from downtown — led Somerset at the break by a whopping, 39-22 margin.
Somerset was dead, right? No, that would be wrong.
Playing with the heart of a champion, Jeron Dunbar’s club fought back.
Jase Bruner hit three treys in the second half, while Gavin Stevens knocked down a pair of three’s after the intermission, helping Somerset to get back off the mat.
And, despite the fact that Somerset’s leading scorer — Kade Grundy — rolled an ankle and basically played the fourth quarter on one leg, the Briar Jumpers roared back.
Somerset fought all the way back from that 17-point halftime deficit to knot things up at 64-64 with less than a minute to play in the contest, before Danville held the ball for a last shot.
That shot was missed, but Jalen Dunn’s tip in was good just before the final horn sounded, sending Danville to the regional title game, while ending Somerset’s season in heart-breaking fashion with a 66-64 win over the Briar Jumpers.
Bruner and Grundy both led Somerset with 15 points each in the game, while Dylan Burton and Stevens each chipped in with 11 points, for a Briar Jumper team that saw their season end with a 26-6 record.
Danville — with the win — moved on to Tuesday night’s championship game of the tournament to face West Jessamine at 7 p.m. from Pulaski County High School.