Warren Central heads to Rupp Arena in back-to-back seasons after overtime thriller against Bowling Green

Tuesday night concluded the 4th Region boy’s basketball tournament at E.A. Diddle Arena.
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 10:00 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Tuesday night concluded the 4th Region boy’s basketball tournament at E.A. Diddle Arena. In classic rivalry fashion, this matchup between the Warren Central Dragons and the Bowling Green Purples ended in an overtime thriller.

These two teams met three times prior to the region title game. Twice in the regular season, and in the 14th District championship with Warren Central claiming a 3-0 advantage heading into their final meeting of the season.

”Just how resilient our kids were. We knew it was going to be a tough game trying to beat them four times, but I told multiple people before the district championship game that I’d be okay if we lost that one,” head coach Will Unseld said. “It was going to be tough to beat them four times, and we knew it was going to be a tough game, but my kids came through and made plays when they needed to.”

It was a defensive battle to start the game. Chappelle Whitney crashed the board for the putback to get Warren Central on the board first. Both teams continued to exchange buckets until the Dragons got a bit of momentum taking a 13-8 lead after the first quarter.

In the second, Warren Central outscored the Purples 7-4 to take an eight-point lead. Bowling Green cut the lead down to six, but trailed by eight at the end of the first half.

The start of third quarter was in favor of the Dragons as Kade Unseld found Whitney downtown on the fast break for an easy bucket to extend the lead to 14. That lead didn’t last long, though, as Bowling Green came knocking at the door to cut it back to an eight-point game heading into the fourth quarter.

Bowling Green wasn’t letting this one get out of reach as they brought it within three with 1:22 left in regulation. MJ Wardlow lobbed it to Mason Ritter in the paint who dropped it in and drew the contact for the and-one. Ritter made the foul shot to tie the game up at 46. Warren Central held the ball with a minute to go and let the clock wind down to five seconds before Marr Walkup drove in and tried the fadeaway jumper, but the shot was too strong as Whitney was there on the putback but it rolled off the front of the rim. The buzzer went off at the end of regulation with a tie game to send it into overtime.

Both teams exchange buckets to knot the game at 50 with 1:12 left to go. Warren Central had possession and used the same strategy from before, keeping the ball in their possession to let time tick off of the clock. Then with five seconds left, Omari Glover found Unseld on the cut to take a two-point lead. Bowling Green got the ball to mid-court and called timeout. Deuce Bailey inbounded the ball to Wardlow who drove to the basket and kicked it out to Luke Idlett on the wing for the win, but the three-pointer hit the rim and bounced back. The clock hit zero and the Warren Central Dragons became back-to-back 4th Region champions with a final score of 52-50 in OT.

Warren Central heads back to the KHSAA State Tournament for the fifth time in six years where they will play the winner of the 12th Region, the Pulaski County Maroons.

Tip off is set for Wednesday, Mar. 15 at 6 p.m. ET in Lexington at Rupp Arena.