Russellville, a Class A school located about 30 miles west of Bowling Green, has spent most of the last two weeks in Lexington. The Panthers participated in the Peoples Exchange Bank Invitational at Henry Clay last week before playing in the Traditional Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic this week. They were 3-3 over that span entering Thursday.
Their road trip started with a 90-79 defeat at the hands of High Point Christian, a North Carolina school for which current University of Kentucky freshman Bam Adabeyo starred last season. Coach Phil Todd said the Panthers left Russellville that morning for a 4 p.m. tip-off on Dec. 20 in Lexington.
“I don’t imagine none of us slept well last night,” Todd said with a laugh after that game. The team went back home a couple of days for Christmas weekend before playing at 1:30 p.m. Monday at LexCath.
Several teams in the 4th Region refused to play Russellville, Todd said, so it picked up the Henry Clay tournament late. It’s ended up serving the Panthers well from a developmental standpoint, especially since 10 of its players were on the football team that reached the state semifinals and haven’t gotten in much practice time.
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Russellville, which boasts a likely Mr. Basketball candidate in Belmont signee Pedro Bradshaw, is expected to be among the All “A” Classic contenders come January. Todd hopes Bradshaw, averaging 21.8 points on about 15 shots per game, gets a little greedier once the calender turns over.
“The thing about it, I want Pedro to be more selfish than he is,” Todd said. “He’s too unselfish out there. He’d rather pass than score. ... I need him with 25 shots a game.”
Bradshaw, who’s shooting 54.1 percent and averaging 15.1 rebounds, had kind words to say about fellow Mr. Basketball contender Taveion Hollingsworth after battling the Paul Laurence Dunbar star in a 76-67 loss in the Lexington Catholic event.
“He’s hard to contain as far as slashing and everything,” Bradshaw said. “He’s a great combo guard, got a nice shot and he’s got a really good feel for the game. He’ll be really good as a Hilltopper.”
The Panthers star put up 32 points and 17 rebounds against the defending champs, a performance that probably opened some eyes around the state.
“Coming from a small town, we don’t really get a lot of looks or nobody really sees certain players,” Bradshaw said of his player of the year potential. “Hopefully, if they weren’t here, word gets out and it puts a good taste in their mouth.”
Bradshaw’s 6-foot-6 frame would lend itself well to the football field, especially at a school the size of Russellville. Was he ever recruited to the gridiron?
“Yeah, they did, but I told ’em no ’cause they don’t pass the ball and I wasn’t trying to be a lineman,” he said with a laugh.