LEXINGTON, Ky. – Fans of upsets and David-versus-Goliath shockers were in the wrong place Wednesday as the KHSAA Boys Sweet 16 tipped off at Rupp Arena.
Favorites Madison Central, Covington Holmes, Graves County and Hopkinsville each advanced to the quarterfinals of the state tournament with impressive wins.
Madison Central, champions of the 11th Region, opened the event with an 81-56 romp over 12th Region champ Wayne County. The Indians’ Dominique Hawkins, a “Mr. Basketball” finalist, scored a game-high 25 points on 11-of-17 shooting as University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari and a pair of Wildcat assistants scouted the 6-foot-1 senior guard from courtside.
Hawkins, who holds scholarship offers from Western Kentucky, Morehead State, Valparaiso and Tennessee Tech, has been drawing interest from programs like UK, Louisville, Purdue, Alabama and Tennessee of late. He said afterward he didn’t realize the UK boss was watching from a press row seat on one of the baselines but “It’s an honor for me to know he was here.”
Madison Central (29-5) also got 19 points and eight rebounds from senior guard Ken-Jah Bosley. Senior forward Quan Taylor added 13 points and a game-high 15 rebounds for the Indians, who held a commanding 48-21 advantage on the boards and turned many of those into 24 second-chance points.
Wayne County (27-8) was led by Peyton Woods with 14 points. Corey Stearns and Trey Blevins each added 10 for the Cardinals.
Covington Holmes 65
Pleasure Ridge Park 60
The most competitive game of the night featured another highly-regarded prospect in Holmes sophomore James Bolden. The 2015 point guard, affectionately known as "Beetle" to his teammates, didn’t have his jump shot working (2-for-7 FG) but was a steadying force with the ball in his hands, weathering PRP’s constant pressure and trapping defense with a 13-point, four-assist, two-turnover line.
Holmes point guard James "Beetle" Bolden had a strong overall floor game against PRP's pressure defense. (FOX Sports Photo by Jeff Drummond.)
The Bulldogs (32-2) also got 23 points from guard Rashawn Coston, who went 5-of-7 from 3-point range, and a huge rebounding effort from forward Chris Englemon, who pulled down a game-high 18 board to go along with 10 points for the 9th Region champs.
PRP (25-8) trailed by as many 11 points, but battled back within four at the end of the third quarter. The 6th Region champs had several opportunities to tie the game in the final period, but could not come up with the big basket at the right time.
Holmes iced the game by hitting eight of its last 10 free throws and finished the game 26 of 35 (74 percent) at the line.
PRP was led by Lamontray Harris with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Antonio McDaniels added 19 points for the Panthers.
Graves County 74
Ohio County 60
The 1st Region champions shot 49 percent from the field and recorded 16 assists on their 24 baskets in picking apart the defense of Ohio County.
Graves County (27-8) got 23 points from both Jake Williams and Zach Kimbler, and Peyton Puckett chipped in with 17 in a balanced scoring effort by the Eagles. Williams did much of his damage at the foul line, converting 12 of 13 attempts, while Zimbler pulled down a game-high nine rebounds.
Graves County forward Zach Kimbler hung in the air on his way to the basket against Ohio County. Kimbler had 23 points and nine rebounds for the 1st Region champs. (FOX Sports Photo by Jeff Drummond.)
Ohio County (25-8) trailed the entire game, but teased its fans by never letting Graves pull away until late. The deficit hovered around six to eight points for most of the third and fourth quarters, but the 3rd Region champs could not string together enough defensive stops to get within striking distance.
Graves pulled away in the final four minutes and led by as many as 18 with many reserves getting a chance to bask in the limelight at tradition-rich Rupp Arena.
Preston Lambrich led Ohio with 19 points. Trevor Lewis added 15 points and five assists for the Eagles. Eighth-grader Trace Young also showed glimpses of high potential with nine points, three rebounds and three blocked shots playing on the big stage for the first time.
South Oldham 52
Hoptown had way too much athleticism and depth for South Oldham, which was making its first Sweet 16 appearance in school history out of the 8th Region.
The 2nd Region champs shot 64 percent from the field with 40 points coming in the paint. Jordan Majors scored a game-high 20 points, and Jaqualis Matlock dominated inside with 18 points and a game-high 17 rebounds. Trey Edwards added 16 for the Tigers (32-4) who extended their state-long winning streak to 24 games.
South Oldham (24-8) got 14 points from Matthew Haysley. One of the state’s best perimeter shooting teams entering the tournament, the Dragons made only six of 28 shots from beyond the 3-point arc. Five of the makes came in the final period as the outcome had long been decided.
Noon ET – Warren Central vs. Montgomery County
1:30 ET – Fleming County vs. John Hardin
6:30 ET – Johnson Central vs. Ballard
8:00 ET – Knott County Central vs. Clay County
FRIDAY’S UPPER BRACKET QUARTERFINALS:
Noon ET - Madison Central vs. Covington Holmes
1:30 ET – Graves County vs. Hopkinsville