After opening the season with a pair of dominant victories, the McCracken County boys basketball team was unable to keep that positive momentum going Saturday at home against Bowling Green. But the Mustangs and their fans still had something to cheer about thanks to senior Noah Dumas hitting a career milestone in the third quarter.
With 3:30 left in that third period, Dumas generated a steal on defense that led to a transition layup, putting him over the 1,000-point mark for his career as part of his team-high 17 points in the Mustangs’ 77-58 defeat.
Since it came in a loss, the milestone proved bittersweet. But it was something Dumas could be happy about.
“I’m very proud of myself,” the senior said after the game. “It’s just the result of all my hard work.”
McCracken County head coach Burlin Brower said Dumas’ accomplishment was well deserved.
“The awards just keep climbing for him. Noah has the opportunity to be one of the first players I’ve known in a long time to play in four region championship games,” Brower said. “He’s really learning how to run a basketball team and has really matured. I’m so proud of him. Even tonight, when things went bad, he was doing a really good job.”
Brower added that Dumas is developing into a solid senior leader.
“He has some young guys around him, and he’s doing a really good job of giving those guys some leadership,” Brower said. “I’ll make an argument any day that he’s one of the best guards on this end of the state. He’s a warrior. I can’t say enough about him.”
Dumas admitted that he didn’t realize that his third-quarter layup was the shot that pushed him past the 1,000-point threshold even though he was aware that he was close to hitting the milestone. That basket brought McCracken County within 11, 50-39, and was followed by a layup from senior teammate Ian McCune. But the Purples closed the third period with an 11-2 run, including a trio of 3-pointers, that essentially put the game out of reach, as the visitors entered the final quarter up 61-43.
“We had to make some substitutions there, and that hurt us,” Brower said of that critical stretch. “If we were going to make a run at it, we were going to have to get about a minute or two break (for the starters) at the end of the third quarter. Our bench has to come in and defend a little better.”
Bowling Green used its hot 3-point shooting to separate itself from the Mustangs, as the Purples opened the game with back-to-back triples as part of a 13-4 run.
McCracken County closed to within five, 20-15, going into the second quarter but found itself trailing 42-32 at halftime following a 16-8 Bowling Green run over the final 5:30 of the period.
The Purples made 11 3-pointers on the night and were 16-of-23 from the free-throw line. Brower described Bowling Green as a complete team that’s difficult to defend.
“They have shooters and bigs and guys who can handle the ball and guys who can get to the rim. They’re probably one of the most talented, disciplined teams I’ve coached against in a while,” he said. “You have to pick your poison with those guys.
“If you go out and try to man those guys, they’re going to get to the front of the rim, and then you’re going to get in foul trouble.”
Jaxson Banks led the Purples (3-0) with five made 3-pointers and 17 points, while Willie Wilson made four triples and finished with 16 points. Jordan Dingle scored 16 points while Isaiah Mason added 15 and Turner Buttry had nine.
Juniors Brant Brower (14 points) and Ian Hart (10 points) joined Dumas in double figures for the Mustangs (2-1), while McCune chipped in eight.
McCracken County opened the season with wins of 70-40 over Graves County and 78-30 over Ballard Memorial, so the Mustangs are fired up to return to the court following Saturday’s defeat.
“Every time we lose, it just fuels us to keep going and get better,” Dumas said.
Their next game is Jan. 12 at home against Paducah Tilghman beginning at 7:30 p.m.
Bowling Green20 22 19 16 — 77
McCracken Co.15 17 11 15 — 58
Bowling Green: Banks 17, Dingle 16, Wilson 16, Mason 15, Buttry 9, Flanary 4.
McCracken County: Dumas 17, Brower 14, Hart 10, Ian McCune 8, Jack McCune 3, Tilford 3, Whitis 3.