Johnson Central will defend its crown.
The Golden Eagles put together a fierce rally in the final minute Friday night to punch their ticket to a second straight 15th Region final with a 61-57 victory over Pikeville at the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center in Pikeville.
Johnson Central, now 22-11, will play Sheldon Clark tonight at 8 p.m. with a trip to Rupp Arena on the line. It will be a rematch of last week’s 57th District championship game which Central won 50-49.
“I think we are both deserving to be here, and I’m not surprised a bit to see Sheldon Clark here,” said Johnson Central coach Tommy McKenzie. “We’re going to have to play our very best to win. We know that.”
It took 31 minutes for the Golden Eagles’ plan to play out Friday night. Pikeville’s Ethan Rowe fouled out after fouling Slade McPeek on a layup. He converted the 3-point play with 47 seconds to give Johnson Central the lead for good at 59-57.
Rowe fouled out. Pikeville (21-10) fell apart.
“We wanted to get Ethan (Rowe) and Ray (Kasongo) out of the game,” said McKenzie. “We knew if we could do that, we’d have a chance.”
Junior Shane Hall iced the win with a pair of free throws with 15.9 seconds left.
Hall led three Johnson Central players in double figures with 17 points and eight rebounds. McPeek added 13, and Truman Salyer finished with 10.
The Golden Eagles weathered the storm of Rowe and Kasongo for much of the game. They took a 50-45 lead into the final quarter before Pikeville reeled off 10 unanswered to jump ahead 55-50. Central went 5:30 without a field goal in the final frame.
“We haven’t been playing great, but I thought our effort was good with the exception of the little stretch in the fourth quarter,” McKenzie added. “I also thought we took advantage at times when [Pikeville] was in foul trouble.”
Kasongo, who finished with 17 points and 13 rebounds, was benched after picking up his fourth foul with 3:06 left in the third. At that time, Pikeville was ahead 41-40. Central made a quick run to go ahead five.
Rowe, a sophomore, scored a game-high 21 points for Pikeville.
The Panthers shot 52 percent from the floor on 22 of 42 shooting, including 3 for 8 (38 percent) from the 3-point line. They also had 19 turnovers.
Central had 11 turnovers and shot 40 percent from the floor on 21-of-53 attempts. They were 4 of 14 from the 3-point line (27 percent) and had just 11 turnovers.
PIKEVILLE 20 14 11 12 – 57
JOHNSON CENTRAL 16 13 21 11 – 61
Pikeville (57) – Jacob Hamilton 0 1-3 1; Ray Kasongo 7 3-6 17; Ethan Rowe 7(2) 1-2 21; Steven Silvers 1(1) 0-0 5; Ryder Johnson 1 2-2 4; Blain May 3 1-1 7; Cody Charles 0 2-2 2. Totals: 19(3) 10-16 57.
Johnson Central (61) – Shane Hall 6 7-11 17; Braxton Blair 4 1-4 9; Dalton Adkins 1(1) 0-0 5; Slade McPeek 4 5-6 13; Kyle Gullett 1(1) 0-0 5; Truman Salyer 1(2) 2-2 10; Nick McKenzie 1 0-0 2. Totals: 17(4) 15-23 61.
Johnson Central will defend its crown.
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Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp (with video)
The Fleming County Panthers waited nearly an hour to ascend the ladders set up under the goals at Ellis T. Johnson Arena on Tuesday night.
To the victor belongs the spoils, which traditionally includes the nets after winning a tournament title. But Fleming County milled around on Morehead State’s floor taking pictures and soaking in the atmosphere after handling Ashland 82-59 in the 16th Region Tournament final.
Snipping the twine was almost an afterthought. In fact, except for a minute or so of celebration with their student section immediately following the final buzzer, the Panthers didn’t really even seem all that excited.
They expected to be here, and they were all business after earning back-to-back region titles and trips to Rupp Arena.
AARON SNYDER: Truth or Dare unkind to ’Cats
Ashland was left feeling like the shy kid after an intense game of Truth or Dare.
Truth: Fleming County outrebounded Ashland, 39-24, after Ashland outdueled Greenup County by 10 the night before.
'Relaxed' Steward earns MVP award
Both Fleming County coach Mark Starns and stellar senior Troy Steward attributed his significant strides this season to aggressiveness.
Playing a part, too, in Steward earning the 16th Region Tournament Most Valuable Player award was the lack of nerves, which were nearly overwhelming at times a year ago.
Central's 15th Region reign continues
Once was good.
Twice was nice.
Three was sweet for the Johnson Central Eagles.
Senior Slade McPeek scored 22 points and earned most valuable player honors Tuesday night as Johnson Central rolled past Shelby Valley, 81-56, for its third straight 15th Region championship at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
- Fleming goes for two: Panthers beat Ashland for 16th Region repeat Fleming County pulled away early and never looked back as the Panthers pounced on Ashland, winning 82-59 in the 16th Region championship game on Tuesday in Morehead. Fleming County will face Scott County in the Sweet Sixteen next Wednesday at Rupp Arena.
VIDEO: 16th Region semifinals highlights
Fleming County defeated Lewis County, 66-58, and Ashland beat Greenup County, 81-61, on Monday night at Morehead State University to set up tonight's championship matchup. Tipoff is set for 7.
Ashland cruises past Greenup to 16th Region championship game
Tyler Stewart is known for his unrelenting hustle as one of Ashland’s glue guys.
When the senior guard can pitch in some offense too, as he did Monday in the 16th Region Tournament semifinals, that’s just one more problem for Tomcats opponents.
Stewart scored 20 points, senior Steven Friley posted a double-double with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Ashland outscored Greenup County 21-9 in the third quarter to break open what was a seven-point game at halftime and cruise past the Musketeers, 81-61.
Fleming battles back to 16th Region final
A healthy Wilder Williams this season has given Fleming County a whole new dimension.
Prior to his sophomore year, Williams sustained a football injury that resulted in three ankle surgeries and limited him to bench duty last season while the Panthers made their run to the 16th Region championship.
A physical 6-foot-3 player, Williams is making his presence felt around the basket as Fleming County looks to return to the Sweet Sixteen.
AARON SNYDER: Will the next hero be unmasked?
Who will the bat signal shine for tonight?
Or, should I say, the Cat signal?
In the third installment of a trilogy that might rival the Batman three-pack of “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” Fleming County and Ashland will battle in a matchup that has produced a classic clash in each of the last two 16th Region Tournaments.
If the first two collectively served as a gradual progressions to tonight’s scene, the climax could be off the charts.
Corey Gregg was Ashland’s superhero in 2012, when the senior confidently fired a perfect 3-point shot from the right corner. The triple thrust the Tomcats and Panthers into overtime, from which Ashland emerged 79-73 in a first-round game.
Central wins, Lawrence falls in 15th
The biggest concern for Lawrence County coach Josh Cook was staying out of foul trouble.
His team stayed in it all night, and it cost them a spot in the 15th Region title game.
Shelby Valley senior Tyler Carr led four players in double figures with 19 points as the Wildcats knocked off Lawrence County, 72-60, in the semifinals of the 15th Region Tournament at the East Kentucky Expo Center.
“This one hurts,” said Cook. “We’ll learn from this, and I have no doubt that our kids will get back here and finish the job.”
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- Panthers pound Ashland for repeat trip to Rupp (with video)