In a showdown of region favorites, John Hardin jolted Johnson Central 74-50 in the Republic Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic on Thursday afternoon.
John Hardin senior point guard (and designated sparkplug) Brandon Price had 21 points and six assists for the 5th Region front-runners.
"I was real pleased with our effort," John Hardin Coach Mark Wells said. "We played hard and we executed well offensively and played pretty good defense."
If the lopsided loss was painful for Johnson Central fans to watch, it was also painful for Golden Eagles' star Shane Hall to play in.
The 6-foot-8 junior, who has a scholarship offer from Tennessee, has been nursing a high ankle sprain for three weeks. That's taken a toll on his running and jumping, as was obvious against John Hardin. He was slow getting up and down the floor in the fast-paced game, and he didn't have his normal hops.
He labored to get 10 points and seven rebounds in 20 minutes of action as UT assistant coach Kent Williams looked on.
Johnson Central Coach Tommy McKenzie said a decision must be made whether to let Hall keep playing, or to sit him and let him heal.
"We've got to step back and take a look at this thing," McKenzie said. "I don't think it's getting any better for him, and we need him down the road a lot worse than we need him now."
Hall sat out two games after he hurt his ankle, but he's been playing since. He's averaging 17.5 points and nine rebounds, but he's far from comfortable on the court.
He admitted that "running and jumping really bothered" his ankle against John Hardin. But he said the coaches will have to tell him he can't play. "I want to be out there."
McKenzie said Hall was the "primary reason we're playing in this tournament, and I didn't want to cheat him out of the opportunity.
"When he looks at me and says he can go, we give him a shot."
Wells noticed in the early going that Hall was less than 100 percent, so he had his team rev up the tempo even more. "We usually play fast, but we tried to run even more, and it worked for us."
Daveon Greene, a wide-body 6-3 senior, muscled for 12 points and seven rebounds. Keon Williams, a 6-4 junior, had eight points and 11 rebounds.
"They're a really good team," McKenzie said of the Bulldogs. "We would've had to play really well to beat them, and we're capable of that. But not if we're not healthy."
Johnson Central, the favorite in the 15th Region despite having no seniors on its roster, was led by Braxton Blair's 18 points.
JOHN HARDIN (8-1) — Prince 21, Greene 12, Jackson 10, Miller 8, Williams 8, Anderson 6, Montgomery 2, Burns 5, Boulware 2.
JOHNSON CENTRAL (7-5) — Hall 10, Blair 18, Adkins 6, McPeek 1, Salyer 4, Hensley 2, Gullett 9.
John Hardin 16 15 22 21 —74
Johnson Central 16 7 12 15—50
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337. Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes. Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com