Paris made more than half its shots in the first half and held on just enough defensively in the second half to come away with a 65-58 win over Lexington Christian in the semifinals of the boys’ All “A” Classic Saturday night at the Frankfort Convention Center.
Eric Johnson and Jekobi Wells combined to go for 49 points on 19-for-28 for the Greyhounds, who reached the finals of the small-school state tournament for the first time in program history. Paris shot 63.2 percent in the first half before cooling down to finish 24-for-50 on the night.
Johnson had a game-high 27 points and was 5-for-6 from behind the three-point line.
“It feels great to make history and be able to lead these seniors to something that they’ll never get a chance to do again in their lives,” Johnson said.
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Paris finished with a 33-26 advantage on the glass despite a lineup exclusively consisting of guards against an LCA team boasting three 6-foot-6 players.
Lexington Christian got to within two points with 1:51 left following a three-pointer by junior Carter Hendrickson. Paris responded with five straight points and ended the game on a 7-2 run.
“Every time we made a run at ’em, they had an answer,” LCA Coach Nate Valentine said. “It just wasn’t our night.”
LCA was playing for its first trip to the All “A” Classic finals.
Newport Central Catholic 61, Russellville 51: Senior forward Trey Wurtz had 15 points on 7-for-7 shooting, scoring 11 of his points in the fourth quarter and overtime to propel NewCath into the finals for the fourth time in five years.
Brendan Luken, a junior forward, had 14 points and 13 rebounds. He scored 10 of his team’s 20 first-half points to help set the table for the Thoroughbreds’ second-half rally.
Brennan Hall, NewCath’s leading scorer at 15.8 points per game, didn’t have a field goal until overtime. He finished with seven points on 1-for-12 shooting from the field. Hall did pull down nine boards, helping the Thoroughbreds outrebound Russellville, which boasts the state’s leading rebounder in senior Pedro Bradshaw, 45-40.
“If your guards are getting nine rebounds in a game, that means you’re rebounding as a team,” NewCath Coach Ken Collopy said. “And I know they had some individuals who are absolute great rebounders and great players. We were rebounding as a team and I’m very proud of their effort.”
Russellville got off more shots than NewCath — 75 to 60 — but connected only 17 compared to 26 for the Thoroughbreds.
“That ain’t very good, is it?” Panthers Coach Phil Todd said with a laugh. “Shooting below 40’s not very good, but 22 percent’s not gonna win you a ball game. … We missed a lot of shots underneath the bucket, a lot of easy shots, a lot of good shots. But we also took a lot of bad shots.”
The Panthers were 1-for-5 in the overtime period after Bradshaw sent the game into overtime on a pair of free throws with 54 seconds left. Bradshaw was whistled for a walk right before attempting a shot to win the game in regulation. The Belmont signee finished with 17 points, 16 rebounds and seven blocks.
Finals: Newport Central Catholic (14-7) vs. Paris (17-6)
When: 2 p.m.