Sweet Sixteen: Bardstown overwhelms undermanned Pleasure Ridge Park

mmaloney@herald-leader.comMarch 20, 2014 

Even with a 15-point lead in the fourth quarter, Bardstown played at the only speed it knows — fast.

The style nearly backfired, but the Tigers held on to edge Pleasure Ridge Park 75-70 in a first-round matchup of the Whitaker Bank/KHSAA Boys' Sweet Sixteen in Rupp Arena.

"We can't run the clock," Coach James "Boo" Brewer said. "We're a one-tempo team."

Bardstown, in its sixth Sweet Sixteen, thus advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time.

Eljay Cowherd led 10th-rated Bardstown (27-6) with 25 points and six rebounds. Tavon Johnson was next with 18 points. Seivon Schooling totaled 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, while Keanu Young had 11 points.

No. 9 PRP (26-8) played in Rupp Arena minus leading scorer and rebounder Lamontray Harris, who was serving the second game of a two-game suspension for drawing two technical fouls in the 6th Region semifinals.

"It was just a tough game," Panthers Coach Dale Mabrey said. "I told them in the locker room I respect this team more than any team we've had in a long, long time. For the group to band together the last few minutes of the Doss game without Lamontray and band together the whole game against Bullitt East in the 6th Region final, and then to try to prepare for a team that was very, very hot coming down the stretch, very athletic, very quick, rebounded well, rebounded a lot better than their size indicates. But we just couldn't pull magic out of the hat one more time.

"Awfully tough to play that amount of time and games without your go-to man. It's just very unfortunate that that happened. I think the KHSAA really needs to look at that rule."

Mabrey thought the two-game punishment was excessive, in part, because one of Harris' technicals was for hanging on the rim.

The teams combined for 50 fouls and 68 free throws. Bardstown went 21 of 32 at the line, where PRP finished 24 of 36.

From the field, Bardstown shot 26 of 51 (51 percent) to PRP's 22 of 54 (40.7 percent).

Antonio McDaniels wound up leading the Panthers with 18 points, one more than D'Angelo Hunter. Richard Gaines had 11 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks.

PRP scored the last seven points of the first quarter and the first six of the second period to open a 19-15 lead.

But Bardstown regained control in the second quarter with a 17-4 flurry that put the Tigers on top 34-25.

Bardstown shot 68.2 percent (15 of 22) in taking a 40-30 halftime lead. PRP shot 44 percent (11 of 25).

With Schooling working well in the low post, Bardstown maintained control in the third quarter, ending with a 55-43 lead.

The advantage widened to 61-46 early in the fourth quarter before PRP mounted a comeback.

The Tigers would score 10 of their last 14 points at the free-throw line.

The lead was 72-64 when Johnson sank two free throws with 43.6 seconds left.

PRP got a put-back by Gaines and two free throws by Deshan Rushin to pull to within 72-68.

After Cowherd made one free throw at 20.2, McDaniels hit a layup at 14.3 to make it 73-70. But Cowherd made two free throws at 13.2, and PRP missed three final shots.

"Give glory to God," Brewer said. "The guys played hard."

Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com.

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