Cooper falls short in state title game as 8th-grade phenom sparks Bowling Green
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP/WKRC) - Eighth-grade phenom Zion Harmon scored 18 points and Bowling Green captured its first state championship with a 67-56 win over Cooper on Sunday in the KHSAA Boys' Sweet 16 final in Rupp Arena.
Bowling Green (36-2) lost the championship two years ago to Owensboro and had fallen to the eventual state champion in each of the previous three tournaments. The Purples closed this season with 29 consecutive wins, including an 80-79 semifinal win over Scott on Saturday night.
Terry Taylor had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Bowling Green, the 4th Region champion, and he was selected tournament Most Valuable Player. The Purples' leading scorer in their 2015 runner-up finish was named the tournament's most valuable player with 82 points and 40 rebounds over four games.
Taylor's 11 third-quarter points helped Bowling Green build a 36-23 lead. Cooper rallied to within 45-40 early in the fourth before the Purples scored 16 of the next 19 points to put the Jaguars away.
Senior guard Sean McNeil led Cooper with 20 points and junior guard Adam Kunkel had 13.
Cooper (31-5), which was just opened nine years ago, was participating in its first state tournament.
The Jaguars were attempting to become the fourth different Ninth Region team to win a state title (since 1922) and third in the last nine years. Covington Catholic won in 2014; Holmes in 2009 and Simon Kenton in 1981.
ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: McNeil, Kunkel and senior guard Dante Hendrix were all named to the All-Tournament team.
Scott senior guard Jake Ohmer and sophomore guard Chad Ohmer were also named to the team.
Jake Ohmer was also named the Larry Conley Ultimate Teammate Award winner. The award is named in honor of former Ashland High School and University of Kentucky standout Larry Conley. It is selected by the media and given to a participant in the tournament whose individual play exemplifies the style of pla where scoring isn’t the most important aspect of the game, and is complemented by passing, rebounding and blocked shots.
That said, Ohmer scored a tournament-best 106 points (in three games). He also grabbed 35 rebounds, had 13 assists and nine steals - all of which ranked third in the tournament.
Harmon and Deangelo Wilson were other Bowling Green players named to the team.