GREENWOOD WILL FACE BGHS IN SEMIFINALS NEXT WEEK
Jaiden Lawrence received a framed Warren Central basketball jersey and an embrace from his coach, William Unseld, before the Dragons took the court against crosstown rival Greenwood High School on Monday night.
No one had to tell Lawrence the stakes.
With Warren Central, Greenwood and Bowling Green High School scrapping for the KHSAA 14th District regular-season title, and the No. 1 seed in next week’s district tournament, Senior Night would have to take a back seat to the task at hand.
No problem for Lawrence and the Dragons.
The 6-foot-4, 190-pound senior forward sparked Warren Central to a double-digit lead in the first quarter, and the Dragons turned back one Greenwood challenge after another, rolling to an impressive 70-48 victory to force a three-way tie atop the 14th District standings.
Senior forward Jaiden Lawrence is greeted by his coach, William Unseld, on Senior Night at WCHS.
Consequently, Unseld, Greenwood coach Will McCoy and their BGHS counterpart, D.G. Sherrill, participated in a series of odd/even coin flips to determine next week’s seedings, and it was more welcome news on the Warren Central front.
Warren Central (19-3, 6-2 in district) will be the No. 1 seed for the tournament, on its home floor, and the Dragons will tangle with either Warren East or South Warren in semifinal play next Tuesday. Then, on Wednesday, in a knockout game, Sherrill’s Bowling Green squad (22-4) and Greenwood (22-4) will scrap on the Dragons’ home court in the second semifinal.
“We’re playing our best basketball right now,” WCHS coach William Unseld said. “We lost our discipline, defensively, late in the first half, but we turned that around a little after the half. This was an ‘effort game.’ We want to play fast, but we can also win in the half-court game.
“Jaiden Lawrence is a late bloomer. His sophomore year, he hit a couple 3s to force an overtime at Greenwood, and we went on to win that game. Jaiden’s going to be a steal for some college. He’s really worked on his game.”
Lawrence was effusive in his praise for Unseld when it was over. He led the Dragons with a game-high 22 points, one of four Warren Central players to finish in double figures.
“Any one of our starters can go for 20 points on a given night,” Lawrence said. “We’ll just keep feeding the ball to the hot hand. We really just started following the game plan better, in the second half. Coach Unseld is a great coach.
“I believe he’s the best coach in the state.”
Unseld has a deep bench, intent on winning yet another KHSAA 4th Region title. The COVID-19 pandemic limited the Dragons to just 15 games last season, when Bowling Green rolled into the KHSAA Sweet 16 at Rupp Arena.
Will McCoy’s Gators withstood a key loss when the overcame Cade Stinnett’s high ankle sprain on January 21, winning 11 straight games until Greenwood ran into Lawrence and the Dragons.
“It wasn’t our night,” McCoy said via text message on Tuesday. “Tough night. Warren Central played extremely well. They adjusted to our adjustments … The coin flip is what it is. Regardless of where we would have been, (No.) 1 through 3, would’ve been a tough opponent.
“Just gotta find a way to win one game to get to Diddle. We will be fine.”
The Dragons were relentless on the boards, and they limited Stinnett’s effectiveness with a splendid defensive effort. Junior forward Chappelle Whitney had 19 points for Warren Central, while teammates Omari Glover and Damarion Walkup added 13 and 10, respectively.
Walkup’s play on the defensive end of the floor was particularly impressive. Cade Stinnett was the only Gators player in double figures, scoring 16 points, while teammates Aaron Brown and Brak Stinnett each finished with 9 points.
“They killed us on the boards,” McCoy said.
“We really just had to bring the energy tonight,” Walkup said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game.”
Unseld said his team will take nothing for granted going into the district tournament. The Dragons will play host to Evangel Christian at 6 p.m. Tuesday, while McCoy’s Gators are on the road to take on Allen County-Scottsville at 7 p.m.
“Our kids remember being beat in that first round, last year, so they have a drive about them,” Unseld said. “You’ve still got to go out there and win it.”
GREENWOOD GIRLS 43, WARREN CENTRAL 27
Sophomore point guard Leia Trinh led the Lady Gators with 21 points, as Greenwood (16-11, 6-2 in KHSAA 14th District play) completed the two-game sweep of the Lady Dragons (3-20, 1-7).
Senior forward Olivia Lovell had 9 points for Greenwood, while Kayla Grant added 6.
Senior guard Kaylyn Keener led Warren Central with 12 points, and sophomore guard Aida Admehdova finished with 6.
Greenwood will be the No. 2 seed in the district tournament and face South Warren on February 22. Warren Central will scrap with Warren East on Monday, with the winner to face area No. 1-ranked Bowling Green High School (22-6) on February 23.