SUMMIT John King was taken aback by the interview request.
"I only played one quarter!" Johnson Central's senior forward cracked.
King sat for large chunks of the first three periods of the Golden Eagles' 60-55 win at Boyd County on Monday night after picking up two first-quarter fouls and incurring his third infraction on Johnson Central's second defensive possession of the third frame.
Once King got onto the floor long enough to stay there, his impact was immediate: he scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and took a charge to protect a one-point Golden Eagles lead with 53.3 seconds remaining.
"I think any time John is on the floor, there's a mismatch somewhere," Johnson Central coach Tommy McKenzie said. "Now Boyd County can match up with him, but when (Lions big man Austin) Gibbs was off the floor, I thought there was definitely a matchup there that was in our favor.
"We did a good job as a team of making sure we exploited it, (King) did a good job of staying in the game mentally and focused, and he gave us a huge boost in the fourth quarter."
Boyd County led 48-45 after Brad Newsome's bucket with 6:26 to play before King went to work. He tipped in his own miss 13 seconds later, he converted an and-1 with 5:21 to go, and he gave the Golden Eagles the lead for good with another drive with 2:42 remaining.
"I felt like I could play with this team," King said. "I didn't really get to stay on the court the first half, but I just made some defensive plays, got my motor running, got the ball on offense, got the first one to go in, and then I was like, all right, let's go!"
The defining play of the game, though, was one King made defensively. Johnson Central led 54-53 when the Lions took possession in the final 90 seconds.
Newsome, who led Boyd County with 12 points, headed for the rack again. King slid in front. They collided.
It was called a charge, the fifth Johnson Central took in the game. It was also Newsome's fifth foul.
"We want to be the toughest team on the floor every night we play," McKenzie said. "There's not a lot of teams that's gonna attempt to take five charges, but ... those are game-changers.
"Especially a guy that was in foul trouble like he was, for (King) to be mentally tough enough to take that play, that was a big play and it was a big call and it changed everything about the game."
Boyd County coach Randy Anderson didn't care for the call on the grounds that he didn't think it was possible for Newsome to land without hitting King based on the timing of the play, he said. Anderson prefaced that comment by recognizing the degree of difficulty of officiating and that the men and women in stripes usually can't make everyone happy.
"But that's neither here nor there," Anderson said. "It's been a long time since I've seen that many charges, especially against us."
King scored again on Johnson Central's ensuing trip and the Golden Eagles made four straight free throws in the final 31 seconds to seal it.
Johnson Central went 18 for 24 at the foul line (75%), paced by Isaiah May's 10-for-11 showing.
"Maybe we just didn't foul the right guys, but we fouled the wrong ones and they made a bunch of them," Anderson said of the Golden Eagles. "Down at the end, even though both teams are experienced, it just came down to a couple toughness plays. That's when you gotta find a way to make a play. We got two and a half weeks in which to figure that out (before postseason)."
May and Cory VanHoose each scored 15 points and King totaled 13 for Johnson Central (14-1), which extended what's believed to be its best start ever with its 11th consecutive win.
"We've had some good wins here over the years, but this is a tough place to play," McKenzie said. "Coach Anderson, you beat his team, you've done something."
Rheyce Deboard and Dawson Meade scored 11 points apiece for Boyd County (9-4), which was off to its best start in four years.
"We've got some good wins," Anderson said. "We've lost four games; we've lost two to Ashland and two to Johnson Central. I think we are growing. The thing that I really liked tonight was, for about three and a half quarters, I thought our kids really fought, especially on the defensive side of it."
Johnson Central won for the ninth consecutive time in the series. Boyd County last beat the Golden Eagles on Jan. 4, 2005.
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J. CENTRAL FG FT REB TP
McKenzie 2-7 2-2 6 7
May 2-8 10-11 3 15
Rice 2-5 1-4 3 5
VanHoose 6-12 2-3 6 15
King 5-8 3-4 1 13
Lemaster 2-6 0-0 4 5
K. Slone 0-2 0-0 0 0
Sartin-Slone 0-0 0-0 2 0
Spriggs 0-0 0-0 0 0
TOTAL 19-48 18-24 27 60
FG Pct.: 39.5. FT Pct.: 75.0. 3-pointers: 4-17 (VanHoose 1-2, Lemaster 1-4, May 1-4, McKenzie 1-5, K. Slone 0-2). PF: 17. Fouled out: None. Turnovers: 9.
BOYD CO. FG FT REB TP
Newsome 6-10 0-1 2 12
Deboard 4-12 0-1 3 11
Meade 5-7 0-0 2 11
Webb 2-6 4-4 4 8
Gibbs 1-2 6-7 5 8
Ellis 0-1 0-0 6 0
McNeil 2-2 0-0 5 5
Walter 0-2 0-0 1 0
Hicks 0-1 0-0 0 0
Cumpton 0-0 0-0 0 0
TOTAL 20-43 10-13 31 55
FG Pct.: 46.5. FT Pct.: 76.9. 3-pointers: 5-17 (Deboard 3-7, McNeil 1-1, Meade 1-3, Webb 0-2, Ellis 0-1, Walter 0-2, Hicks 0-1). PF: 18. Fouled out: Newsome. Turnovers: 19.
J. CENTRAL 13 15 13 19 -- 60
BOYD CO. 7 16 21 11 -- 55
Officials: Jeremy Ruckel, Bill Renzi and Mike Ginn.