Madison Central's riveting 65-61 overtime victory against Holmes in the Sweet Sixteen quarterfinals on Friday was full of big plays, and it was no surprise that Dominique Hawkins delivered the defining moments — and momentum — for the winners.
Hawkins, a 6-foot-1 senior guard, scored all of his team's 14 points in the fourth quarter, including back-to-back three-pointers and two free throws that turned a 47-44 deficit into a 52-47 lead.
Holmes left-hander James "Beetle" Bolden forced overtime by nailing a three with 40 seconds left, and two free throws with 10 seconds to go.
Hawkins missed a three-point try at the buzzer, but he would step up again in overtime.
After Ken-Jah Bosley's three-point play put Madison Central up 55-52, Holmes' Daquan Palmer put up a shot that Hawkins smacked down. Hawkins grabbed the ball, raced down the floor and threw down a dunk to give the Indians a 57-52 lead with 2:20 left in OT.
The usual show-no-emotion Hawkins let out a scream, and that ratcheted up the already-loud decibel level being generated by the Madison Central faithful.
"I was very excited," Hawkins said, "and I felt that I needed to get our crowd into it."
All 15,801 fans in Rupp Arena were into this Sweet Sixteen classic, which showcased Madison Central's backcourt of Hawkins and Bosley, and Holmes sophomore point guard Bolden.
Hawkins, a finalist for Mr. Basketball, overcame a rough start (3-for-14 shooting in the first half) to finish with 31 points and 12 rebounds.
Bosley, a 5-11 senior, carried Madison Central through the first three quarters and finished with 23 points.
"When Dominique's not playing well — and that's not very often — I have to step up and score," Bosley said.
Indians Coach Allen Feldhaus has come to expect clutch production from Hawkins and Bosley.
"They believe in each other, believe in our system, and believe in me as their coach," he said. "I liked their fire and desire when we made those runs, and everybody was into it. It's a chemistry thing, and I really appreciate that as a coach."
Madison Central's supporting cast made contributions, too, perhaps none bigger than senior George Walker.
With the Indians up 60-58 with less than a minute left, a teammate's errant pass was headed out of bounds. Walker grabbed it and in mid-air successfully called a timeout.
Madison Central got two free throws by Bosley out of that possession.
Walker, Quan Taylor, Hunter Stocker and Daniel Parke were also part of the Indians' strong defensive effort.
Bolden surely caught the eye of Kentucky Coach John Calipari with his 29-point, 13-rebound performance.
"He's done it all year," Coach Jason Booher said. "He just continues to make plays. It's fun watching him grow up."
Feldhaus, asked about Madison Central's defensive strategy on Bolden, said: "By looking at his numbers I don't think we had one, to tell you the truth. He's good."
Holmes' B.J. Coston had an unusually cold night, going 0-for-6 on threes and finishing with nine points. Booher thought Coston might struggle because he was given the task of guarding Hawkins.
The game had an odd ending. Madison Central led 64-61 with :02.6 left and DeMarcus George at the foul line for two shots. Just as he took his first attempt — which missed — the horn went off.
The referees huddled and allowed George two more tries. He missed the next one, but made the last one to make it a four-point cushion.
Booher thought it was the wrong call and that it cost his Bulldogs a shot at possibly tying the game.
But Booher added that his team could have won in regulation if not for shaky free throw shooting and a couple key turnovers in the closing minutes.
He also paid tribute to Hawkins.
"He's so strong, a great player and a great leader," Booher said. "He battled today ... he made some tough shots ... he was a tough guard today."
Feldhaus, who has seen his veterans escape dire situations before, was glad to see them get pushed to the limit by Holmes.
"There's no way you can go through a whole state tournament without a game like this," he said. "It's good to get your juices flowing and see how your kids respond in a pressure-type situation."
Madison Central has reached the state final four once before. It lost in the 1987 semifinals to eventual champion Clay County.
Bolden vs. Hawkins
Stats comparison for Holmes' 5-11 sophomore James Bolden and Madison Central's 6-1 senior Dominique Hawkins from the Indians' 65-61 overtime victory Friday:
Mike Fields: (859) 231-3337 Twitter: @MikeFieldsNotes Blog: fieldsnotes.bloginky.com