LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky coach John Calipari has beckoned his team to display toughness and a will to win for the greater part of what has been a trying season for the Wildcats. On Friday, he saw a prospect show all of that and more in the quarterfinals of the KHSAA Boys Sweet 16.
Madison Central’s Dominique Hawkins, who drew the UK boss for scouting trips to Rupp Arena on Wednesday and Friday, scored 19 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter and overtime in leading the 11th Region champions to a 65-61 win over Covington Holmes in a second-round matchup that held the intensity of a state title game.
Hawkins, a 6-foot-1 senior guard who appears to be playing his way to some major scholarship offers, shook off a 1-for-10 shooting start to carry the Indians when they needed it most. The “Mr. Basketball” finalist scored 14 points in the fourth quarter in about every manner possible, including a soaring tip-in, a challenged jump shot in traffic, a pair of long 3-pointers and four clutch free throws.
He wasn’t done.
In the opening moments of overtime, Hawkins blocked a shot by Holmes’ Daquan Parker, grabbed the rebound and raced end to end for a powerful one-handed dunk that gave Madison Central a five-point edge. It marked the biggest lead for either team in the second half of the intense showdown.
After Holmes cut the margin to 62-61 with 13 seconds remaining, Hawkins stepped to the line and knocked down two free throws to help send the Indians to the semifinals on Saturday night against Hopkinsville.
Hawkins’ ability to bounce back strong after such a rough start underscores what makes him a special player, Madison Central coach Allen Feldhaus Jr. said. “That was probably one of the worst halves he’s had offensively. I think he took that to heart at halftime and kind of raised the level of his play.”
“In the fourth quarter, I felt like my shot just started to come to me,” Hawkins said, “so I just kept shooting it and let it go.”
Hawkins finished the game 10-for-27 from the field and 9-for-12 at the free throw line. He added 12 rebounds (seven offensive) to his line to go along with two assists and two blocked shots. Perhaps most impressively, he did not commit a turnover in playing all 36 minutes.
Every point was crucial in a head-to-head battle with Holmes sophomore point guard James “Beetle” Bolden, who finished with 29 points and made five of nine 3-pointers for the Bulldogs. The 9th Region champs saw their season end at 32-3 with the three losses coming in overtime, double-overtime and on a half-court, buzzer-beating shot.
Madison Central also got 23 points from senior guard Ken-Jah Bosley, who carried the Indians early in the game when Hawkins was struggling. No other player scored more than three points for the Indians (30-5).
Purdue and South Carolina have reportedly been watching Hawkins this week in addition to UK, Western Kentucky, Morehead State and Tennessee Tech. He has scored a tourney-high 56 points in Madison Central's two wins.
MONTGOMERY COUNTY 66
JOHN HARDIN 57
Foul trouble can often spell the end of a team’s state championship dreams at the Sweet 16, but Montgomery County coach Happy Osborne was determined not to let that happen Friday.
Omar Prewitt, right, overcame serious foul trouble to help lead Montgomery County past John Hardin. (FOX Sports Photo by Jeff Drummond.)
Despite seeing “Mr. Basketball” finalist Omar Prewitt pick up three fouls in the first half and a fourth with 7:15 remaining in the game, Osborne stunned fans and media alike by never taking his senior forward out of the game, instead leaning on lessons learned from his college coaching experience at Morehead State and Georgetown College.
Osborne relayed a story in which his team once took out its star player with two early fouls, and without his presence on the court, it wound up costing them the game.
“The officials didn’t foul him out,” Osborne quipped. “We did.”
“The last four weeks of the season, we played guys with two or three fouls in the first half because we knew we were going to have to do it,” Osborne added. “That’s not Omar Prewitt’s first rodeo. He’s done that for us before. My hat’s off to him for keeping his composure.”
Prewitt rewarded his coach’s faith by helping lead the 10th Region champions back from a nine-point deficit. The William & Mary signee finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and three assists to complement guard Bryan Wallace’s team-high 21 points.
Chase Hall also played a key role for Montgomery County (33-4) with seven points and eight rebounds, many of them coming in the first half to keep John Hardin from building a substantial lead.
“He killed us,” John Hardin coach Mark Wells said of Hall’s effort on the glass.
The Bulldogs got 19 points from Patrick Anderson and 12 apiece from Daveon Greene and Brandon Price, but were hurt by 39 percent (22 of 56) shooting from the field. Montgomery County, by contrast, shot 50 percent (24 of 48).
The 5th Region champs finished the season at 29-4.
GRAVES COUNTY 34
In a game that was tied at 27 after three quarters of play, the 2nd Region champions pulled away with a 13-2 run over the final 2:48 to win by a deceptively wide margin over the 1st Region champions.
Jordan Majors led Hopkinsville with 17 points. (FOX Sports Photo by Jeff Drummond.)
Hopkinsville (33-4) had seven different players score in the final quarter to highlight a balanced team effort. Jordan Majors led the Tigers with 17 points and nine rebounds, while Jaqualis Matlock followed with 13 points, 10 rebounds and five steals. Jamonte Davis and T.J. Elam each added nine points for the winners.
Graves County (27-9) struggled the entire game against Hopkinsville’s trapping full-court pressure. The Eagles committed 18 turnovers and shot only 26 percent (13 of 51) from the field.
Peyton Puckett did his best to keep Graves in the game with a team-high 19 points and seven rebounds. No other Eagle scored more than four points.
KNOTT COUNTY CENTRAL 53
Tourney favorite and three-time champion Ballard raced to a 24-14 lead in the first quarter and was never seriously challenged by the Patriots.
Ballard’s Malik Dow blocked a shot in the Bruins’ win over Knott County Central. (FOX Sports Photo by Jeff Drummond.)
Junior guard Quentin Snider, who has committed to play for the University of Louisville, scored a team-high 20 points to lead the Bruins’ balanced attack. Lavonne Holland and Malik Dow each added 14 points, and Kelan Martin chipped in with 10 for the 7th Region champs.
Ballard (31-4) forced 17 turnovers with its pressure defense, leading to 18 points.
Knott County Central, champion of the 14th Region, got 24 points from sophomore standout Camron Justice, who went 8-for-18 from the field and 7-of-9 at the line. The Patriots (30-6) also got 13 poitns and seven rebounds from Chance Cornett.
7:30 p.m. ET - Madison Central vs. Hopkinsville
9:00 p.m. ET – Montgomery County vs. Ballard