FRANKFORT — Butler County was making its first appearance in the boys' Touchstone Energy All "A" Classic on Thursday, and it didn't want it to end.
That's how Russell Coach Merle Kidwell saw it after his heavily favored Red Devils slipped by the Bears 69-68 on Thursday afternoon.
"Butler County is probably the grittiest team we've played all season," Kidwell said. "We had a chance to put the game away a couple times and couldn't do it."
The Bears' Zeke Woodcock hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it a one-point final after Russell led by 13 early in the fourth quarter.
Kyle Skaggs, one of the state's top scorers with a 26-point average, had 33 to lead Russell. But Kidwell said he was more impressed by "two hustle plays he made where he dove on the floor and that led to two baskets. That tells you a lot about him. If he's not an all-state player, I don't know what one is."
Jacob Porter had 19 points for the Red Devils, including four consecutive free throws down the stretch that sealed the victory.
Zach Burden had 23 points and Woodcock had 14 for Butler County. Alex Hall had 15 rebounds to help the Bears win the boards 42-27.
Bardstown 61, Carlisle County 46: It took awhile for Devonte Grundy and Bardstown to get rolling, but once they did everything was fine.
In the first half Grundy missed nine of 10 shots and had just two points and four rebounds. But the 6-foot-6 senior came alive in the third quarter, drilling back-to-back three-pointers, and he finished the game with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
"Devonte is a special young man and a great basketball player," Coach James "Boo" Brewer said.
Bardstown led by only 46-42 midway through the fourth quarter before its pressure defense and three-point shooting sparked a 13-0 run.
Eljay Cowherd had 13 points and four assists for the Tigers, who were runners-up here last year.
Marcus Burnett, a 6-9, 250-pound senior, led Carlisle County with 13 points and 12 rebounds.
Bishop Brossart 54, Collegiate 49: Last year Collegiate upset Brossart 57-52 in overtime in the first round.
The Mustangs didn't let it happen again thanks to Justin Saunders (18 points), Alex Trentman (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Drew Burns (10 points, six rebounds).
Bryce Overstreet's 17 points led Collegiate.
Louisville Holy Cross 65, Pikeville 60: Holy Cross lost its first 14 games this season, but the Cougars are winning now. Rated last in the tournament, they knocked off Pikeville behind Dominique Mack's 24 points and Jack Schmitt's 23.
It was Holy Cross's sixth victory in its last seven games. Pikeville, in the All "A" for the first time in 20 years, was led by senior transfer Ray Kasongo's 32 points (on 15-for-17 shooting) and 14 rebounds. Ethan Rowe added 19 points for the Panthers.
Newport Central Catholic 47, Somerset 33: NewCath, rated the top team in the tournament, relied on its big guys to win its opener. Drew McDonald, a 6-6 sophomore, had 19 points and 8 rebounds. Jake Schulte, a 6-8 junior, had 13 points, 10 rebounds and 5 blocked shots. Senior guard Michael Bueter added 11 points and 6 assists. Somerset was led by Ryan Dishman's 11 points, and Tyson Williams' 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Knott County Central 52, Clinton County 37: Camron Justice, the state's leading scorer (27 ppg), had only 12 points, but Knott Central still prevailed. Simon Christon had 14 points and 7 rebounds, and Evan Hall had 13 points and 9 rebounds for the Patriots. Joe Davis had 11 points for Clinton County. Keifer Dalton had 8 points and 8 rebounds.
Owen County 46, Middlesboro 38: Carson Williams, a 6-6 freshman, had 10 points and 12 rebounds to lead Owen County to the quarterfinals for the second year in a row. Middlesboro, which shot only 27 percent (14-for-51), was led by Donnie Foister's 16 points, 5 rebounds and 4 steals.
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337 Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com