RACELAND Kenny Wilburn’s bucket down low midway through the third quarter lifted Rose Hill Christian within 27-14 of Bath County in the 16th Region All “A” Classic quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon.
What followed was more than just the Wildcats just trying to gain separation or get momentum back after an 8-2 Royals spurt.
Bath County’s 21-3 run over the final 3:52 of the first half was also about its frustration with a series of close losses — and doing something about it.
“We have four losses where we have had the ball either tied or winning with a minute to go in the game,” Wildcats coach Bart Williams said. “We’re just focusing on being solid, especially at the end of the quarters. We’re really putting a lot of focus on winning the end of the quarter, and we’ve been really, really bad at it this year.”
Not Saturday, particularly not in the second quarter.
Bath County used the aforementioned run, which included a trio of 3-pointers in a span of 76 seconds, to pull away to a running-clock 79-53 victory at Raceland.
Jacob Patton scored 20 points, Brooks Williams collected 13 and Devon Hunt dropped in 12. The Wildcats shot 29 for 49 (59.2 percent) from the field, including 20 for 29 inside the 3-point arc.
Patton was 9 for 13 from two-point range. Listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, the prominently sideburned senior had his way inside in the first half.
Patton jump-started Bath County’s run to close the first half with two free throws at the 3:52 mark. Twelve seconds later, he scored in transition while being fouled.
Patton missed the ensuing free throw, but Ryan Leach grasped the rebound and found Patton for two more points.
“Jacob’s a good player,” Bart Williams said. “When he sets his mind to it, he’s one of the best players in the region, and he set his mind to it there in the second (quarter).”
Bath County (9-8) won its sixth game in seven outings since a 3-7 start. The Wildcats will meet West Carter in the All “A” region semifinals for the third straight season.
“(Being in the) semifinals three straight years helps these kids,” Williams said. “They’ve been here. They’re not coming down here with big eyes, and hopefully we can play well Monday night.”
Kenny Wilburn paced Rose Hill (2-10) with 23 points, going 11 for 14 from the field, and led all rebounders with 11. Tate Sawyers dropped in 16 points, connecting on four treys.
The Royals’ Stephan Barker drained a 3 eight seconds into the game, but the auspicious start didn’t last. Rose Hill made seven triples but needed 27 tries to do it.
“We came out playing with (Bath County) pretty well, but we just weren’t hitting our shots,” Royals coach Johnny Bush said. “Second quarter, they go on that run, and my guys, I don’t know if we didn’t have the legs to run with them in transition or what it was.”
Bath County opened up the margin necessary for a continuously running clock when Brooks Williams’s two free throws put the Wildcats up 35 points with 7:44 to go. Joseph Manley’s trey made it 79-41 with 2:26 remaining, but the Royals closed the game on a 12-0 run.
“That’s usually what plagues our team, is we give up one or two big runs and play with them the rest of the game,” Bush said. “We just gotta have the toughness to do that for 32 minutes.”
Wilburn spent the first half inside with Patton, during which time the Royals’ offense grew stagnant. Rose Hill moved Wilburn to the perimeter and used freshmen Ian Justice and John VanHoose down low in the second half. Bush touted their effort, and Williams applauded the tactic.
“I really admire coach Bush,” Williams said. “He’s got good players, and he uses them well. They played solid man-to-man the whole game; they don’t try to sit back in a zone. He’s doing a great job with them. They competed today, I thought.”
Rose Hill remains without a trip to the region small-school semifinals since 2009.
ROSE HILL 8 9 16 20 — 53
BATH CO. 20 28 18 13 — 79
Rose Hill Christian (53) — Barker 6, Sawyers 16, Wilburn 23, Phelps 8, C. Pennington, Coleman, Wirzfeld, VanHoose, Justice. 3-PT. FG: 7 (Sawyers 4, Phelps 2, Barker). FT: 6-10. Fouls: 14.
Bath County (79) — Williams 13, Hunt 12, Leach 9, Otis 5, Patton 20, Lyons 8, Grigsby 7, Rogers 2, Manley 3, Rushing, McKenzie, Sorrell, Padgett. 3-Pt. FG: 9 (Williams 3, Leach 3, Lyons 2, Manley). FT: 12-20. Fouls: 11.
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