It took a third game — and three overtime periods — but No. 3 Madison Central vanquished Bryan Station in the most decisive game for either team this season.
In the closing minutes of the fourth quarter it appeared the No. 13 Defenders would secure their third win over the Indians, but they scored the final four points of regulation and survived multiple last-second shot attempts down the stretch before a strong showing in the final overtime allowed them to walk away with a 73-64 win in the first round of the boys’ 11th Region basketball tournament.
It was the first game to ever go to a third overtime period in the history of the 11th Region tournament, which began in 1932, according to the Kentucky High School Basketball Encyclopedia.
“You couldn’t ask for a better high school basketball game as far as two teams just flat-out laying it on the line,” Madison Central Allen Feldhaus said.
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Indians assistant coach Kenny Roberts was more colorful in his assessment immediately afterward: “There won't be a game in the state tournament that damn good.”
Central traded its signature man-to-man pressure for a 2-3 zone for the better part of the night. Feldhaus liked the early effect it had against Eric “Boss” Boone, Bryan Station’s star senior, who racked up six assists and five rebounds in the first half but only had four points on 2-for-5 shooting. The Indians went to a diamond and put a chaser on Boone in the second half.
“All I can say is it’s a good thing we got to play zone in the first half because that allowed us to save our legs a little bit,” Feldhaus said. “If we tried to guard them man-to-man the whole game, it wouldn’t have gone three overtimes, I can tell you that.”
Boone, the 11th Region Player of the Year and a Mr. Basketball finalist, finished with a triple-double in his final high school game: 20 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists, three blocks and three steals.
“He worked so daggone hard,” Feldhaus said. “ ... He was drained, and I understand why. He does it all. He brings the ball up the floor, he rebounds, he takes it to the hole.”
The changing defenses also kept the Indians, who played only six guys all night, fresh until they had to dig in and rally at the end of regulation.
“The zone helped us save our legs cause we don’t go very deep, but when we got down by four there with a minute and something to go, our man got us back into it,” Feldhaus said. “And that’s our bread and butter so I said, ‘Heck, we gotta stay with it.’”
Dustin Gerald and Isaiah Cozart hit shots in the final 1:26 and a Terrance Clayton-Murphy three-point attempt for Bryan Station was short to close the fourth quarter. Clayton-Murphy again had a jumper miss to end the first overtime period.
Both teams scored only three points in the second overtime. Isaiah Minter, who with 2:10 left in the fourth quarter had to briefly leave the game after a hard fall, converted an and-one opportunity to put Madison Central ahead 58-55 only 17 seconds into the second overtime. Boone responded with a circus-shot and-one and hit the free throw to tie things with 3:14 left. Boone missed a go-ahead jumper with 41 seconds and Minter had a layup roll off the rim with five seconds remaining and Boone secured the rebound.
Isaiah Cozart blocked a go-ahead layup by Station’s Jalen Burbage and Dustin Gerald turned it into a three-pointer from the top of the key with 3:21 left in the third overtime. Minter was fouled by Station’s Kendrick Curry, his fifth, on the Indians’ next possession, and hit two free throws. He then drew Boone’s fifth foul with 1:52 remaining and hit one of two free throws to put Central ahead 64-58. Another 1-of-2 trip with 1:29 left capped a 7-0 run by the Indians to open the final overtime. Burbage hit a three-pointer to cut it to 65-61 with 1:25 left but that was as close as Station got the rest of the way.
Minter went 10 of 12 from the free-throw line in the third overtime.
He finished with a game-high 31 points, five assists and four rebounds. He was 7-for-13 from the field and 17 of 22 from the free-throw line.
Gerald, the Indians’ leading scorer, had 28 points, 12 rebounds and three assists. He was 3-for-4 from behind the three-point line.
“Two seniors that just flat-out wanted to put the rest of the team on their back and carry them, and they did,” Feldhaus said of the duo.
Cozart, a junior who’s in line to become the state’s career leader in blocked shots, was credited with 11 blocks in the official stats but Madison Central’s book had him with 13. He came into the game with 515 career blocks, 26 away from breaking the record, so he’s now either 15 or 13 away.
The Indians (25-7) will face Lexington Christian Academy in the semifinals Saturday at Eastern Kentucky University’s McBrayer Arena. Madison Central upset the Eagles, 45-44, in the first round of last year’s tournament.
“I bet they were wishing we’d play all night long,” Feldhaus said. “They’re monsters. Those three kids (big men Austin Hall, Carter Hendricksen and Kyle Rode) are tough. We can’t match up with them either so we’ll probably look to our zone again.”