HARRODSBURG — Burgin staged a huge comeback in the second quarter and kept things close until late in the third Tuesday.
But in the end, the defense and inside game of West Jessamine proved too much for the Bulldogs, who ended their best season in 71 years with a 62-46 loss in a boys 46th District Tournament semifinal at Mercer County.
Burgin finished 22-9 in the final season for retiring coach Don Irvine. Alex Beckerson had 15 points and nine rebounds and Travis McEachern added 12 points and five boards for the Bulldogs.
“It was a great year for us, and we just wanted to make it a Cinderella story out of it and go one more level,” said Irvine, who announced his retirement before the season. “But we knew we were going to have to play better. I don’t think they saw the real Burgin basketball team tonight. That second quarter when we made that run, that’s what we looked like most of the year.”
The Bulldogs staged that comeback after falling behind by 15 points. They trailed 21-9 after one quarter and still trailed 26-11 when Beckerson’s bucket inside started a 13-0 run that cut the Colts’ lead to two.
Zack¿Irvine and Beckerson scored inside, Austin Shewmaker drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing off of a West turnover to make it 26-20 with 3:37 to go in the first half. Shewmaker then was fouled on another 3 from the right wing and made the free throw to make it 26-24 with 3:01 to go in the half.
“I thought we got in there and were really attacking them at the basket. And they missed some easy shots, too,”¿Irvine said. “They missed some at point blank, and that helps, obviously. It helps get our running game going. And I thought in transition we gave them a lot of trouble there.”
A putback and a steal and three-point play from Robby Irgang pushed the lead back to 31-24, but Beckerson’s three-point play with 28 seconds left in the half made it 31-27 at halftime.
A bucket from Zack Irvine and two free throws from Beckerson cut West Jessamine’s lead to 35-33 with 3:05 left in the third, but the Colts (18-12) went on 16-0 over the rest of the third quarter and into the fourth for a 51-33 lead.
“I thought they got more aggressive on offense and defense and kind of took us out of what we were wanting to do,”¿he said. “We’ve been going to the line 20, 25 times a game and we only had two in the first half and 11 for the game. That doesn’t fit into our strength. We like to attack the goal and get to the line, and we didn’t do much of either one.
“Their inside game is real skilled. And they really shut us down.”
Burgin never got closer than 16 points the rest of the way, finishing 17 for 37 from the floor and 9 for 11 at the free-throw line.
“Our defense in the third quarter did a good job of not giving them buckets. The first few minutes of the third quarter, we were settling for 3s and not hitting them,”¿West Jessamine coach Damon Kelley said. “We’re normally a good shooting team and I want my kids to have the confidence to shoot when they’re open because they are good shooters. The shots weren’t falling, so we finally started attacking the rim a little bit.”
Chase Fain led West Jessamine with 14 points, and Irgang, DeShawn Eubanks and Daulton Peters each scored 11. West finished 24 for 57 from the field and made 9 of 11 free throws.
Burgin was without Myles Hill, who injured his ankle in pregame warmups and did not play. Irvine said that was a loss.
“Myles is our vocal leader, and puts a lot of physical play on it. He’s not a big points and rebounds guy, but he would lay a body on somebody, and that’s one less we had and we can’t hardly stand to do that. And that made an impact on us I thought,” he said.
But Irvine said Tuesday’s loss would not take away from what was a historical season for Burgin, which had its highest win total since 1941.
”It was a whole body of work,”¿he said. “We didn’t expect to win 20 games. We don’t expect to lose any of them, but we don’t expect to win 20, and that’s something that hasn’t been done in years and years. It doesn’t really stand out until you read it in the papers, that it’s been 71 years since it’s been done.”
46th District Tournament
At Mercer County
Burgin 9 27 33 46
West Jessamine 21 31 46 62
BURGIN (22-9) — Austin Shewmaker 7, Nick Beckerson 1, Jared Robbins 7, Travis McEachern 12, Alex Beckerson 15, Zack irvine 4.
WEST¿JESSAMINE¿(18-12) — Jeff Ziemann 8, Chase Fain 14, Will Henderson 3, Robby Irgang 11, DeShawn Eubanks 11, Heath Jackson 4, Daulton Peters 11.