LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Ken-Jah Bosley hit a 3-pointer over two defenders with 2.2 seconds to play and Madison Central won its first Kentucky boys’ Sweet 16 basketball state championship, 65-64 over Ballard on Sunday.
Bosley finished with 20 points, and his 14 in the fourth quarter kept the Indians (32-5) in the game when Ballard looked ready to pull away. Ballard’s lead reached five points twice in the quarter, including after two Quentin Snider free throws with 49 seconds to play.
Snider hit 1 of 2 for the Bruins (32-5) with 26 seconds left, and Madison Central’s Dominique Hawkins quickly went coast-to-coast for a layup. Out of a timeout, Ballard threw its inbounds pass away and Madison Central gained control. Hawkins mishandled a pass his way, but Bosley recovered.
“All I saw was the ball come my way, so I picked it up and found some separation,” Bosley said. “I knew I had to shoot it. I was in a groove in the second half and my shot was falling, so I knew I needed to shoot it right then.”
The Indians had trailed by as many as 16 points midway through the third quarter.
Hawkins, who was named the tournament’s most valuable player, had 21 points and 10 rebounds Sunday. He finished the four-game playoff with 108 points, 12th highest in the tournament’s 96 editions.
Ballard was seconds away from clinching its fourth state championship, but the errant inbounds pass with about 15 seconds to go from Kelan Martin — who had 19 points and 12 rebounds, his second double-double of the tournament — sailed into the wrong hands.
“You just need to say nobody needs to blame themselves or anything,” Ballard coach Chris Renner said. “When you’re dealing with 16-, 17-, 18-year-old kids, they’re still young. It’s tough on them. It’s hard for them to process some of these things. He’s had a great tournament and a great season, and he can’t let one play or moment or a couple of moments in the state championship define him as a person or even as a player.”
Ballard seemed in control in the first half, and Snider banked in a 30-foot runner as time expired in the second quarter to give the Bruins a 34-22 halftime lead. Madison Central was 9 of 29 from the floor at the break, and Ballard’s physicality inside, particularly Martin’s, was clearly bothering the Indians.
But in the second half, shots started falling for the Indians. Hawkins started taking the ball to the rim aggressively and drawing fouls, much like he did Saturday to bring Madison Central back from a nine-point halftime deficit in the semifinals against Hopkinsville.
Bosley was 4 of 5 from the field in the fourth quarter, including 3 of 4 from 3-point range. He was also 3 of 3 from the free-throw line in the fourth.
When Madison Central coach Allen Feldhaus Jr. saw the decisive play unfold, he thought the ball had gotten away and Ballard had won. But then he saw who recovered for his team: Bosley.
“He really struggled the last two games with his shot. But he stepped up there in the fourth quarter and hit some threes,” Feldhaus said. “I could tell when he went up that he went up with confidence. He wanted to take that big shot because he knew what to do with it. He was just waiting for that shining moment to hit that really big one.”
— — — Dominique Hawkins scored 30 points, including 23 in the second half, and Madison Central came back to beat Hopkinsville 60-56 on Saturday in a semifinal of the Kentucky boys Sweet 16 state basketball tournament.
Hawkins, who struggled in the first half like he did in Friday’s quarterfinal, was 16 of 18 from the free-throw line in the second half to bring the Indians (31-5) back from a deficit as large as 12 points with 1:34 left in the third quarter to one win away from their first state championship.
The 6-foot-1 senior is averaging 28.7 points per game in three Sweet 16 games. He dazzled the Rupp Arena crowd for the third straight game in which Kentucky coach John Calipari sat courtside to watch him.
Jordan Majors scored 31 points for the Tigers (33-5), who used their athleticism in the first half to stifle Hawkins and Madison Central.
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Kelan Martin put Ballard on his back, scoring 23 points and grabbing 14 rebounds to lead the Bruins to a 59-55 win over Montgomery County on Saturday in a semifinal of the Kentucky boys Sweet 16 state basketball tournament.
Ballard (32-4) will play Madison Central in the championship game Sunday at 2 p.m.
Neither team could pull away in a game in which neither team’s star — Ballard’s Quentin Snider and Montgomery County’s Omar Prewitt — could mount much momentum. Prewitt heated up in the second half and finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, but the Bruins’ defense stuck to him all night.
Snider finished with eight points, four rebounds and five assists.
Montgomery County (33-5) had never appeared in a state semifinal before Saturday.
Ballard has won three state titles — most recently in 1999 — and appeared in the championship game in 2010.