The Patriots had something to prove when they stepped onto the court for Saturday’s 11th Region quarterfinal match-up with Henry Clay at McBrayer Arena.
And they weren’t going to back down.
“We’ve heard all week that we didn’t belong here, other teams should be here instead of us and that we weren’t one of the best eight teams in the region,” Model coach Wes Scarberry said. “I think in the first half we proved that we belonged here. I couldn’t be more proud of how we played.”
The Patriots (13-16) certainly made a statement.
Model led by as many as five points in the first half before the Blue Devils (21-10) pulled away in the second half. Henry Clay went on to pick up a 61-34 victory.
The Blue Devils will take on Lexington Catholic in the semifinals on Monday.
Model’s junior tandem of Ephraim Otieno (13 points, four assists, four steals) and Alex Chen (10 points and nine rebounds) capped solid seasons with strong performances, while Logan Jackson and Blake Benson each added four points.
“We had a good gameplan and we had plenty of time to prepare,” Scarberry said. “That’s something our coaching staff and players did extremely well this week was to prepare for this game. We studied film and had some alumni come in and practice with us to simulate what it would be like to be play them.”
Model took a quick lead on a three-pointer by Logan Jackson, but Henry Clay responded by scoring 12 of the next 14 points.
Benson and Otieno scored the final four points of the first quarter and jump-started a 10-0 run that put the Patriots back in the lead.
A jumper by Chen and basket by Benson on the inside gave Model a 13-12 lead.
“He’s a sparkplug for us,” Scarberry said of Benson. “We needed him to come in and play big on the inside.”
Otieno put the Patriots up 15-12 on a layup off a steal before Henry Clay pulled even.
Model took its largest lead of the game (20-15) after Chen hit a fallaway jumper and Jacob Backus connected on a three-pointer.
Henry Clay scored nine of the final 15 points of the second quarter to take a 26-24 lead into halftime.
In the opening minute of the second half, Otieno pulled Model back within two points with an acrobatic driving layup, but then things started to fall apart.
The Patriots scored only one more point the rest of the quarter and didn’t have another field goal for more than 11 minutes.
In the third quarter, Model had seven turnovers and was 1-of-9 from the field.
“Our execution was bad. They didn’t change a whole lot of what they were doing,” Scarberry said. “We allowed too much penetration and offensively we were just too quick to try to score.”
Henry Clay led 47-27 heading into the fourth quarter and kept pulling away.
Model had 22 turnovers in the game (14 in the second half), which led to 32 points. The Patriots also shot just 20 percent from the field in the second half.
Isaiah Tisdale led Henry Clay with 16 points. The Blue Devils had 12 players score in the game.
The Patriots, the 44th District Tournament runner-up, don’t have a senior on the roster and will certainly look to use this year’s postseason success as something to build on for next year.
“It was a great experience for us to play in a district final and a regional game,” Scarberry said. “Now that they see that they are capable of playing that well, it will give them a little inspiration for next year.”