Darren Lynam was looking for somewhere to collect his thoughts and talk about the history his McLean County basketball team had made.
McLean County had just accomplished a true win for the ages, 56-40, over Owensboro in the boys 3rd Region Tournament semifinals.
The win catapulted McLean County to the 3rd Region championship game for the first time in school history.
That the Cougars did it against the decades-long power of the 3rd Region made it arguably one of the biggest upsets in regional history.
A big crowd that was pumped on one side (McLean County) and stunned on the other (OHS) saw it at the Sportscenter.
“I think I’ll take a look back on this stuff, three weeks, six months from now or whatever. Right now I’m just enjoying this win, but it’s right back to the drawing board for now,” Lynam said, already thinking of Tuesday night. “But it’s been a heck of a ride, two years ago we took down what was considered two top-five teams (postseason), we kind of did the same thing with Ohio County, Meade, and of course Owensboro.”
The Cougars will face Muhlenberg County in an All-10th District regional for the 3rd Region championship on Tuesday. McLean County is 21-10. Owensboro finished 22-8.
The Cougars advanced because they didn’t let OHS have its usual driving lanes for Kenyata Carbon and Amari Wales. OHS had struggled shooting from the outside much of the season, and it really cost the Devils in this game.
Wales finished with 19 points and Carbon had seven. OHS was 3-of-29 from 3-point range. OHS was 11-of-46 overall for 23.9%.
“We played well,” Lynam said. “We knew they weren’t the best 3-point shooters in the world, their name of the game is to get the ball to the basket. We tried to stack five guys in the lane.
“We were ball strong the whole game, we got a lead, they maybe panicked a little bit.”
The Cougars ran their offense through Brady Dame, looking for mismatches with the 6-foot-3 senior and the switching OHS defenders.
“We were trying to slow down, they were switching, whenever we got the right matchup on me, we got me in the post and laid it in there,” Dame said.
That worked well enough for Dame to have a game-high 20 points and 17 rebounds for a double-double. Jaxon Floyd had 12 points for the Cougars.
McLean County made 16-of-25 free throws in the fourth quarter to hold off the Red Devils. McLean was 17-of-27 for the game. The Cougars were 15-of-29 from the floor for 51.7%.
McLean County grabbed control of the game early and rolled to a 27-8 halftime advantage. OHS scored two points in the second quarter.
OHS tried to turn up the heat in the third quarter but it didn’t get the deficit down to 10 points until there was 2:35 left in the game, and the Devils couldn’t make up any more slack.
“We should have guys step up,” OHS coach Rod Drake said. “We’ve played on our heels this year when we weren’t pressing. Outside shooting has been very difficult for us. Shot selection, too — when to shoot the ball, when not to shoot the ball. We were shooting like it was desperation at some points out there. We played against zone the last month but we didn’t attack it. They just beat us.”
McLEAN CO.13 14 9 18 — 56
OWENSBORO6 2 14 18 — 40
McLean County (56) — Dame 20, Floyd 12, Lee 8, Ward 7, Riley 6, Cline 3.
Owensboro (40) — Wales 19, Carbon 7, Taylor 7, Johnson 4, Rogers 3.