Coaches can’t forget the ones that got away, which might be why Boyle County’s Steve Adams remembers the Rebels’ first game against East Jessamine so well.
Boyle surrendered a late lead and lost to East Jessamine in its second game of the season, but the Rebels will get a rematch Monday when the two teams meet in a boys 12th Region Tournament semifinal at Pulaski County.
The Rebels and Jaguars will play for a berth in the championship game, as the winner will meet the Southwestern-West Jessamine winner Tuesday for the title.
It has been nearly three months since their paths crossed in an early-season game in Danville, but Adams remembers it well.
Boyle led 51-47 with about four minutes left but couldn’t put the game away at the free-throw line, and East Jessamine won 57-55.
“We missed two front ends of one-and-ones. If we’d hit those, we probably would’ve won going away by six or eight points,” Adams said. “But we didn’t, and they hit some shots.”
It remains the closest victory of the season for East Jessamine (28-4) and one of only four intra-region games decided by 10 points or less for the Jaguars, who are 16-0 against 12th Region foes. It was also the first in a series of close early-season losses for Boyle (12-15), which lost seven of its first nine games and was 4-13 before recovering to win eight of its last 10.
East Jessamine was already on a roll — it won its first six games — and the Jaguars have hardly slowed down since. They have won 17 consecutive games since their last loss Dec. 29, relying on an energetic offense that averages a region-best 83.3 points per game and has scored more than 90 points four times.
While East Jessamine has put up big numbers, Boyle averages just 53.4 points per game. But the Rebels are holding opponents to 53.9 per game, and they held the Jaguars to their lowest total of the season.
However, Adams said the Rebels will try to keep the game moving when they have the ball.
“We want to get up and down the floor, but we don’t want to do silly stuff,”¿he said. “We want to attack them and make them pay for all that pressing and everything that they do.
“They’re just going to make it an ugly game. They’re going to try to beat you on the offensive boards, they’ll run numbers at you and foul you, and they’ll run the floor. And they’re real strong with the basketball.”
East Jessamine was tied with Wayne County at halftime of its first-round game, but the Jaguars outscored the Cardinals 24-5 in the third quarter and won 78-61.
Boyle shot just 35.8 percent from the field in its first-round game, a 57-48 victory over Casey County.
“We’ll be a lot more focused than we were (Wednesday),” Adams said.