By Terry Boehmker
NKyTribune sports reporter
LEXINGTON — One field goal. That’s how close the Scott boys’ basketball team came to pulling off a stunning upset in the semifinals of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA state tournament on Saturday at Rupp Arena.
Scott senior guard Jake Ohmer missed a running, off-balance shot in the final seconds and Bowling Green escaped with a 80-79 win in a game that was closer and more exciting than many people expected.
Bowling Green has been ranked among the top five teams in the state all season while Scott was overlooked in the weekly voting. That’s why most of the fans seemed to be rooting for the underdogs in the final seconds of Saturday’s game.
They watched Ohmer drive toward the basket and take a one-handed shot that hit high off the backboard. The ball came down in a crowd of players. One of them put up an errant shot, but the final horn had already sounded.
“I got a good look, actually, I just short-armed it,” Ohmer said of his missed shot. “I knew it was off.”
No one was surprised that Ohmer got the ball for the last shot. He had been a scoring machine during the state tournament all week, getting 41, 32 and 33 points in three games. His consistent scoring and the team’s hard-nosed defensive play are what carried the Eagles to the final four in their first state tournament appearance since 1989.
“I’m sad right now because I’ll miss playing with everybody,” Ohmer said. “Our whole team played as hard as they could and I think everybody’s proud of us.”
Bowling Green had a distinct size advantage and used it effectively to score 54 points in the paint. That’s why Scott fell behind early and trailed by as much as nine points, 69-58, with less than five minutes left in the fourth quarter. But the Eagles rallied and took their first lead when Jake Pusateri made a free throw that put them on top, 75-74, with 1:32 left on the clock.
After a basket by Scott senior Vince Dumlao extended the lead to 77-74, Bowling Green’s eighth-grade point guard Zion Harmon drove into the lane and knocked down Ohmer. Officials called a blocking foul instead of a charge and Harmon canned both free throws to make it a one-point game, 77-76, with 56 seconds remaining.
“I thought the charge that was called a block with about a minute to go was huge,” said Scott coach Steve Fromeyer. “It gave them two points and I’m not real happy about that, but that’s the way it goes.”
The lead changed hands three times after that. Harmon made a jump shot with 23 seconds left to put the Purples ahead, 80-79, and set the stage for Scott’s final possession. After Ohmer missed the shot, he and his teammates had a hard time holding back tears.
“I’m proud of our kids,” coach Fromeyer said. “They battled. We had our chances and it just didn’t work out.”
Bowling Green (35-2) will play Cooper (31-4) in the state championship game at 2 p.m. Sunday. Scott finishes the season with a 23-13 record after a memorable performance in the state tournament. The Eagles didn’t have any starters taller than 6-foot-1 and they still made a run at the title before losing a close game to one of the top contenders in the “Sweet 16” bracket.
“I can’t say enough about the opponent we just played,” said Bowling Green coach D.G. Sherrill. “That’s the first time in the post-season we had to finish a game like that and make a play late.”
“I told a guy on the bench sometimes I’d rather be lucky than good,” Sherrill added. “This was a great time to be lucky because they could’ve very easily won this basketball game. They’re a fine club.”
The 33 points Ohmer scored in the semifinal loss gave him a three-game total of 106 for a 35.3 average. He also had 35 rebounds, 13 assists and nine steals to earn a spot on the state all-tournament team. His younger brother, Chad, also received all-tournament honors. The 5-foot-7 sophomore matched up against players more than a foot taller than him in the last two games.
“The one thing I’ll remember the most probably is my little brother just battling against those big kids all week,” Jake said.
Chad Ohmer is one of three starters in the Scott lineup who will return next season along with juniors Nelson Perrin and Jake Pouncy. They hope to build off the Eagles’ surprising success this season.
“Nobody thought we were going to make it this far so we’re proud as we can be for ourselves,” Chad said.
SCOTT 14 16 23 26 — 79
BOWLING GREEN 21 18 22 19 — 80
SCOTT (23-13): J. Ohmer 11 7 33, C. Ohmer 2 7 11, Jolley 2 1 5, Perrin 2 0 6, Pouncy 2 4 9, Pusateri 1 1 4, Dumlao 4 1 11. Totals: 24 21 79
BOWLING GREEN (35-2): Wilson 5 1 12, Harmon 5 6 18, K. Jones 9 0 18, Taylor 11 4 26, Key 1 0 2, T. Jones 2 0 4. Totals: 33 11 80.
Three-pointers: S — Ohmer 4, Perrin 2, Daumao 2, Pouncy, Pusateri. BG — Harmon 2, Wilson.