HUNTINGBURG -- Sometimes the scoreboard is not a true indication of how a game is played out.

Such was the case Saturday night in the boys Class 3A Regional Championship game inside Southridge's Memorial Gym.

The Princeton Community boys basketball team had their season end with a 67-58 loss to Silver Creek.

But the Tigers fought tooth and nail until the final buzzer which a 21-6 season ended in the Elite Eight.

"We took a very, very good team to the wire," Princeton coach Ryan Haywood said. "I know (the final) ended up being nine, but that was not a 9-point game, it was much closer than that.

"We had our chances late, but just a few too many turnovers and we just couldn't come up with the 50/50 balls in crunch time. I am really proud of our guys."

Silver Creek won the open tip and knocked down a 3-pointer just eight seconds into the game and they never trailed.

The Trojans led 11-9 after the first eight minutes of play and carried a 35-26 lead at halftime.

Back-to-back buckets from Zach Dove pulled the Tigers even at 39 with 4:01 left in the third period. It was the first time the game was tied since Stephan Wilkerson tied the game with a 3-pointer on the Tigers opening possession of the game.

Silver Creek led 46-42 at the end of the third and scored the first seven points of the fourth quarter for a 53-42 lead -- its largest of the game.

After a timeout by Haywood, the Tigers responded.

Wilkerson scored on a drive then came up with a steal and layup.

See Tigers/Page B2

Later, Wilkerson knocked down a trey, scored on a drive and hit two free throws to draw the Tigers to within 61-58 with 2:05 left in the game.

But the Trojans forced Princeton in turnovers on three straight possessions and scored the final six points for the final tally.

"Stephan tried to will us to the win and he about got it done," Haywood said. "We just fell one or two plays short.

"They have a lot of weapons and had guys who just made huge shots. Seems like everytime we got it close they would hit a big 3-pointer. They are the total package and may just win the whole thing."

Silver Creek coach Brandon Hoffman lauded the effort by the Tigers.

"They are good team and well coached," the Trojans coach said of Princeton. "And they threw a lot of haymakers at us, but we just kept throwing them back. It came down to a couple possessions at the end where we got some stops and easy buckets."

Wilkerson finished with a game-high 20 points and 10 rebounds in the loss.

Zach Dove added 14 points, while Hunter Carey drilled four 3-pointers for 12 points.

Dove, one of six seniors on the team, mentioned he was proud of the way his teammates battled all game.

"We came a long way from the beginning of the season and we just proved how tough we really are here tonight," Dove said as he was fighting back tears. "It was an honor to play with all of these guys. From just two wins as freshmen to winning the sectional and being a regional finalist, it has just been an honor."

Dove and Carey were both named to the six-player all regional team.

Haywood noted the Tigers have nothing to hang their heads about.

"Winning the Toyota Classic, winning at Jasper, share of the Big Eight Conference and to make it to the final eight teams, it was just such a special season," the Tigers coach said. "These seniors mean the world to me and have meant the world to our program. They are also great kids and it's going to be weird not having them here next year. I cannot thank them enough for everything they have done."

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.