The setting going into Friday night’s state tournament quarterfinal was much the same as it was in 2022 for the Lyon County Lyons. The Lyons had handily won a first round game and now had to face a significantly bigger challenge. Last season, it was highly touted Covington Catholic. This year the Lyons stood staring at the defending champions, George Rogers Clark.
As for the game itself, it was eerily similar to what happened last year, with the final score almost the same.
Sam Parrish calmly sank two free throws with nine seconds left in the game as George Rogers Clark fended off a 4th quarter rally from Lyon County and claimed a 60-56 win in the final quarterfinal round game of the 2023 UK HealthCare Boys Sweet 16.
Much like last year’s quarterfinal loss to Covington Catholic, the Lyons were right there in the game into the waning moments but just could not get the breaks to go their way late after they had survived a torrid 2nd quarter shooting streak from the Cardinals.
The night opened promisingly for the Lyons. The Lyon County defense limited GRC to just 14.3 percent shooting in the first eight minutes of the game as the Lyons jumped out to a 13-6 lead. In a stat that might have been foretelling of what was to come, both of the made shots for the Cardinals were three-pointers.
Brady Shoulders and Travis Perry combined for 11 points in the opening quarter and the Lyon County fans were roaring their approval. Then the second quarter happened, and it may have, in all reality, decided the game, or if not the game, it fully ripped the momentum away from the Lyons.
You did not figure the defending state champs would shoot 14 percent for the rest of the game, you just didn’t think they would do what they did in the second quarter.
The Cardinals scored five quick points to start the second, including a three by Tyleik Maxwell to cut the lead to 13-11. Over the next couple of minutes, the teams went back and forth, with the Lyons holding an 18-15 lead with 4:43 left in the half. Then the barrage began.
Over the rest of the half, GRC made five shots, and all five came from behind the arc. Three different Cardinals made a three to end the half, three of them came from Sam Parrish. By the time the halftime horn sounded, the Lyon County lead was gone and George Rogers Clark was up 30-24.
After a frosty cold opening quarter, the Cardinals were blistering hot in the second, shooting 69.2 percent overall and 75 percent from behind the arc.
The halftime break did not do much to cool down the Cardinals either. Three more threes fell in the first 4 1/2-minutes of the third quarter as GRC extended the lead to 8 points at 45-37 and it felt like maybe the Cardinals were on the verge of putting the game away.
But the Lyons over the past few years have exhibited their tenacity and their heart and that was on full display again Friday night at Rupp Arena. A Travis Perry three in the final seconds of the third cut the lead to 50-46 and you had a feeling that the game was still on.
Lyon County opened the final quarter with a basket from Jack Reddick and a three from Travis Perry and took the lead at 51-50 and Lyon County faithful threatened to lift the roof off Rupp.
But George Rogers Clark did not get to be the defending state champs by wilting under the pressure of the bright lights. The Lyons would have chances to extend the lead and could not find the way to do so and it would cost them, along with a couple of brutally tough turnovers.
GRC ripped off 8 quick points to go back in front 58-51. Still, the Lyons would not go away.
A Brady Shoulders layup and a Travis Perry three cut the lead to 58-56 with 11 seconds left. But Sam Parrish sealed the win with his clutch free throws and left the Lyons and their fans with another super effort but a tough loss at the state tournament.
Travis Perry led the Lyons with 19 points. But note, that was the only time that Perry had been held below 20 points all season. Brady Shoulders and Jack Reddick added 14 points each. Shoulders also had nine rebounds.
All five starters for GRC reached double figures led by Sam Parrish with 15. Trent Edwards and Reshaun Hampton had 12 points each for the Cardinals.
Story of the night was the three-point shooting for GRC as the Cardinals hit 12 of 24 from behind the line compared to 7 of 23 for the Lyons. Also, after starting out 2 of 14, GRC was 17 of 27 for the final three quarters.
Lyon County sees its season come to an end in the quarterfinals of the Sweet 16 for the second year in a row, this time with a record of 31-6.
GRC moves on to Saturday’s semifinals where they will take on Frederick Douglass, who pulled out a furious 4th quarter rally to overtake Louisville Male.