PURPLES WITH A PURPOSE/Bailey-to-Ritter combination spells doom for Gators, 81-33


It usually happens, innocently enough, with a nod of the head. Or a little eye contact. Maybe a pivot near the basket, with Bowling Green High School’s Mason Ritter making his move.

That’s when Deuce Bailey can drop a dime, make some change, and watch Ritter bring it home.

Bailey and Ritter combined for four field goals on Friday night, two of them going for dunks and two more for easy baskets, as the Purples manhandled visiting Greenwood High School, 81-33, at the BGHS Arena.

It was the eighth consecutive victory for Bowling Green (15-4 overall, 2-0 in the KHSAA’s 14th DIstrict) heading into Saturday’s game against Ensworth (Tennessee) High School at Greenwood, part of the Gary Force Honda Clash At The Swamp. Tip-off is scheduled for 2 p.m.

The Gators dropped to 9-8 overall, and 0-2 in 14th District play, in an up-and-down season that is still taking shape. It was Greenwood’s fourth consecutive defeat, but the Gators look to topple that streak against another Tennessee squad, Clarksville’s Kirkwood High School, at 6 p.m. in the Gary Force Honda Clash, on their home court.

Bailey guided the Purples to the KHSAA Class 5A state championship in football last month, completing his third year as the team’s starting quarterback in his junior year. Ritter, meanwhile, is on his way to the Ivy League and Columbia University — “he’s smart, man!” Bailey said with a smile — gives Bowling Green an agile, 6-foot-8 presence on the low post.

Whether it’s repetition or telepathy or long nights in the gym over the years, the Bailey-to-Mason connection has helped Bowling Green stay ranked in virtually every statewide KHSAA boys basketball poll in the Commonwealth.

“Deuce is a quarterback, of course, and he sees the court very well,” BGHS coach D.G. Sherrill said. “Mason gives us so much near the basket, and we were able to play really fast tonight. We made them put the ball on the floor with our defense.”

Mason scored 14 points to lead a balanced Bowling Green attack, with the Purples putting all of their other four starters — Bailey, Braylon Banks, M.J. Wardlow and Jace Wardlow — in double figures. Junior forward Ryan Troutman led the Gators with six points.

“Me and Mason have that chemistry out on the court,” Bailey said. “We’ve been playing together since the Parks and Rec days, with the Cavaliers. Mason’s Mom (Dr. Beth Bryant, a former Auburn University forward) coached one of those teams.

“I’d say Mason was able to impose his will (on Greenwood) tonight. He’s really a force out there.”

The Purples shot 61 percent from the field, which put Greenwood behind the eight-ball almost immediately. Bowling Green led 20-8 after the first quarter, and 41-16 at the break.

“Deuce and I have been teammates for a long time,” Ritter said. “We make that eye contact, and when we do that, I try to get to a spot (to get the entry pass). If we keep playing together, we can make a good run … we just can’t get ahead of ourselves.”

Braylon Banks had 13 points for the Purples and helped keep his team on the attack. Bailey finished with 12 points, while brothers M.J. Wardlow and Jace Wardlow added 11 and 10, respectively.

“The big challenge for us is offensive efficiency and rebounding at both ends of the floor,” BGHS coach D.G. Sherrill said. “We wanted to play at a certain pace and we challenged our guys before the game. We were able to play downhill and make some shots.”

Bowling Green has two games before its first showdown with defending KHSAA Sweet 16 state champion Warren Central (5-5, 2-0 in the KHSAA’s 14th District). The Purples will tangle with Enworth on Saturday afternoon before playing host to Barren County (11-4 overall, 4-0 in the KHSAA’s 15th District) on Tuesday night. The Purples, who nearly upset Warren Central in last year’s 4th Region championship game, will visit the Dragons’ lair next Friday night.

Warren Central’s Drevon Bratton scored 20 points and teammate Elijah Starks — a former BGHS forward — added 17 as the Dragons turned back South Warren High School, 69-60, on Friday night at South.

Greenwood will play host to Franklin-Simpson (7-7 overall) on Tuesday night before resuming 14th District play next Friday against South Warren (7-7, 0-2).

“I didn’t feel like our guys were ready to match the physicality of that game,” Greenwood coach Will McCoy told Daily News sports editor Jeff Nations. “We tried prepping them for it, the last two days, and it was a focal point for us … We got in such a big hole early, fighting uphill, and starting to kind of play where you don’t traditionally want to play.”


Bowling Green’s Katy Smiley found her shooting touch in the second half, leading the Lady Purples with 16 points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots.

The Lady Gators stayed within striking distance for almost the entire game, with senior guard Leia Trinh leading the way with 16 points. Teammate Avery Overmohle, a senior forward, finished with 14 points and was a strong presence under the boards.

Greenwood actually led, 8-3, after the first quarter and took a 19-18 advantage into the locker room at the break. But Smiley and BGHS teammates Ryleigh Campbell and Chloe Potter — two of the Lady Purples’ seniors — quickly set the tone in the second half, and Bowling Green was equal to the task.

“I thought our defensive intensity, to start the fourth quarter, was great,” BGHS coach Calvin Head said. “We had some people step up and we had some separation the rest of the way. Katy (Smiley) has the ability to score, but we ask for to do so many other things, too. Like handling the ball. She rebounded really well tonight.

“We’re just trying to get a little better every day.”

Smiley believes the Lady Purples are a work in progress, which was what everyone expected after the departure of BGHS mainstays Saniyah Shelton (Eastern Kentucky) and Meadow Tisdale (Northern Kentucky) to the college ranks.

Bowling Green will play host to traditional rival Barren County (11-4, 3-1 in the KHSAA’s 15th District) on Tuesday night before resuming district play on the road against Warren Central on Friday.

“We came out kind of slow tonight,” Smiley said. “We’ve got to play with that kind of energy from the get-go. We’ve got to push hard, learn to drive, hit the 3s and play as a group.

“We’ve just got to keep going, not worry about the last play, and move forward.”