"We shot the ball well and created things offensively in the first half and rebounded the ball extremely well," Burgin coach Don Irvine said. "We played cautious in the second half and Harrodsburg increased its defensive pressure. The more physical the game became, the better that suited them and we became a perimeter oriented team in the second half."
The Bulldogs (6-7, 1-4 46th District) certainly had their way early. Burgin raced to a 13-0 advantage less than four minutes into the game by connecting on four of its first six shots, while Harrodsburg (5-8, 3-1) missed its first six shots.
Sean Bottoms nailed a trey nine seconds into the contest while Zack Gross and Joe Harris scored four points each during the scoring run that ended with a Justin Doolin basket with 3:23 to play in the period. However, the Pioneers responded with an 11-0 run of their own to trim the lead to 13-11 before Gross scored from 15 feet and Harris after a rebound to give Burgin a 17-11 lead after one quarter.
Gross nailed three 3-pointers during the second period as Burgin increased its lead to 34-19 at the half.
"I was worried somewhat at the half," Tatum said. "It was a matter of getting the lead into single digits or falling behind by 20. To the kids' credit, they did everything we asked them to do in the second half."
Despite going 1-for-14 from the field in the third stanza, Burgin continued to lead 38-32 after three periods.
Reserve Travis White's play enabled Harrodsburg to get back into the game. He tallied three times to open the final frame, twice on layups following steals, and the Pioneers received putbacks from Marquis Brown and Dunn to finally tie the score at 40-40. Doolin gave the Pioneers a three-point lead at 45-42 with two free throws with 28 seconds left.
Burgin had only one bucket after the seven-minute mark but continued to stay within reach because Harrodsburg began to do things too quick on the offensive end and missed free throws. The Pioneers turned the ball over three times in the final two minutes and missed six of nine charity attempts.
Finally with five seconds to play, Dunn missed two free throws and Bottoms rebounded and called timeout. Gross, who led all scorers with 19 points, had a good look at the basket for the tie at the horn, but the shot just missed.
"We had good looks all night," Irvine said. "We still had a chance to tie the game tonight and had a chance to win one against Mercer County earlier in the year. We needed this game for a 'feel good' game. We are not used to being in these types of situations late in the game and we need some mental toughness to think about certain things late in the game.
"But, just like after the Mercer game, if we can get in these type games in the district tournament with a chance to tie or win the game, I'll take it every time. We are 1-4 in the district but I really don't think there is a four seed right now because this district is so balanced. We'll takes our chances just like everybody else."
HARRODSBURG (5-8, 3-1) - Robbie Merriman 6, Mariqus Brown 13, Mark Dunn 10, Travis White 6, Justin Doolin 11.
BURGIN (6-7, 1-4) - Sean Bottoms 10, Zack Gross 19, Bobby Wylie 3, Joe Harris 9, Daniel Howard 2.