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Somerset falls just short against Danville Christian

Feb. 26—Not only did the Somerset Briar Jumpers celebrate senior night on Friday, honoring seniors Ben Godby, Indred Whitaker, Jamison Coomer, Colyer White and Wesley Carr, but they also welcomed in the Danville Christian Warriors to the Briar Patch, the consensus number one team in the 12th Region. With this being their regular season finale, what better way to end off the campaign in style than beating the best team in the region?

For three quarters at least, it looked like the Jumpers were well on their way to doing just that. However, the defense of a very tall and athletic Danville Christian team stood tall in the fourth quarter, holding Somerset to no points and giving them a loss on their senior night 48-45.

Junior big man Lual Ayiei scored the first basket of the game for the visitors, before it was quickly answered by a three-pointer from Godby. The three-pointer became the saving grace of the Jumpers during the first period. Junior Braden Fugate hit a three to give Danville Christian the lead back, before Coomer connected on a three of his own to flip the lead back to the home team. Sophomore Geu Ateny scored inside as the big men for the Warriors couldn't be stopped early on.

Back-to-back threes from Whitaker and Kole Grundy kept up the hot shooting start for the Jumpers and gave them a 12-8 lead in the game. Junior Titus Boyd hit a two for Danville Christian before Coomer connected on another three that forced a timeout for the visitors. Godby added four more before the end of the period, with Ayiei scoring another inside before the buzzer, giving Somerset a 19-13 advantage after the first.

Ateny began the second with a basket inside before Whitaker would quickly follow suit with a two of his own. Boyd had a traditional three-point play that cut the Somerset lead down to three before another long range shot was made by Godby. It was soon head coach Ryan Young that was forced to take a timeout however, as senior Emmanuel Dut and Ateny both had made baskets to cut the Somerset lead down to just 24-22.

Boyd was able to tie the game back up out of the timeout. The Jumpers recovered from the 6-0 spree though, as they closed the half by scoring five of the last six points, with both Whitaker and Aedyn Absher scoring two apiece and Josh Lewis scoring one from the free throw line, to give themselves a 29-26 lead heading into the second half.

Absher heated up to begin the second half, scoring four with one of his baskets being assisted by Grundy after a massive offensive rebound, something the Jumpers had been struggling with due to the size of the Warriors. Ayiei got Danville Christian back within two points before another Whitaker three-pointer gave the Jumpers a 36-31 edge.

Another Whitaker three-pointer, this one from seemingly the parking lot, increased the Somerset lead up to eight and forced a timeout by Danville Christian. Somerset called a timeout after a made basket from Fugate after some poor defense. The three parade continued with made shots by Absher and Godby to close the period, giving Somerset a double digit lead heading into the final quarter at 45-35.

The offense of the Jumpers came to a screeching halt in the fourth however. A three from Fugate, plus baskets inside by Boyd and Dut, brought the Somerset lead down to just two within the first few minutes and forced a full timeout by the Briar Jumpers. A basket from Ateny later and suddenly the game was tied up after a 10-0 run by the Warriors. Every shot taken by the Jumpers would just barely rim out and time began to be a factor in this one.

A steal and two from Boyd gave the Warriors their first lead since early in the ball game and the offensive frustrations of the home team seemed to be mounting. Ateny added a made free throw late and despite having several chances to tie the game, Somerset just couldn't get a shot to go in late, as they ended up falling 48-45 to Danville Christian.

The Jumpers were led by Whitaker and Godby with 13 points apiece, with Absher adding another nine points. Other scorers included Coomer with six, Grundy with three and Lewis with one. Danville Christian was led by Boyd with a game-high 14 points.

Somerset finishes the regular season with a record of 18-10 and will begin their postseason journey on Tuesday, as they square off with Casey County in the 47th District Tournament hosted by Rockcastle County. Tip is set for 6 p.m.

Jacob Pratt is the Sports Editor of the Commonwealth Journal and can be reached at jpratt@somerset-kentucky.com.